Stories in Pennsylvania

Climate Solutions

Science leads the way to a healthier planet for all living things.

The sun rises over a forested mountain range. Rolling green ridges dominate the foreground and roll away to the horizon. White mist rises from the valleys in the distance.
Cumberland Forest The sun rises over the Cumberland Mountain Project. © Cameron Davidson

Tackling climate change is vitally important. Each successive month brings new heat records, extreme weather and other indicators that our climate is changing at a pace that threatens the quality of our lands, air and waters, the well-being and prosperity of our communities, and general stability around the world.

Download our Climate Policy Economic Impact Report

View and download our report to learn about how climate action in Washington, D.C. will benefit Pennsylvania.

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The Nature Conservancy is committed to advancing solutions that match the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. Led by science, we are committed to tackling climate change, both to keep global warming below 2°C and to help vulnerable people and places deal with its negative impacts.

We are working to achieve this by:

  • Protecting and restoring healthy and resilient natural landscapes.
  • Mobilizing action to secure a clean energy future.
  • Supporting laws and initiatives that promote a healthy planet.
  • Accelerating natural climate solutions that address environmental threats.
A young girl holds her arms out at her sides for balance as she walks along a fallen log in a sun dappled forest.
Future Opportunities Policies under discussion in Congress include a list of investments that reinforce Pennsylvania's role as a leader in energy, construction trades and hardwood forest products. © Melissa Farlow

Economic Impact of Climate Policies

Congress must act on historic climate opportunity for the future of Pennsylvania and the nation

We have never been closer to an agreement on a set of policies that will significantly reduce the climate threat while unlocking the promise of innovative, cleaner industries and the jobs that come with them.

These policies, under discussion in Congress, include a list of investments that reinforce Pennsylvania’s role as a leader in energy, construction trades, and hardwood forest products:

  • Investments and incentives to support new and existing technologies that expand the availability of clean electricity, make our factories less polluting and promote the use of clean cars, trucks, and transit.
  • Direct investments in our forests and farms that enhance their capacity for storing carbon, increase their climate resilience and reduce wildfire risk.
  • Incentives to help U.S. companies compete when producing advanced energy technologies and cleaner manufacturing processes.

Additional policies also recognize that the costs of climate change are inequitably experienced and make direct investments to improve local air quality, lower energy costs and expand access to clean energy in communities that are most affected and least able to respond to the impacts.

Other policies will help energy communities and workers better manage the transition to a clean energy future. For example, enhanced tax credits could accelerate renewable energy development on former mine lands and brownfields.

In Pennsylvania, this whole suite of policies means significant economic benefits. To find out how much, The Nature Conservancy turned to BW Research Partnership, an independent economic research firm. We asked them to analyze the economic impacts of about $382 billion in federal investments that would be created by the set of policies under consideration in Congress, including clean energy tax credits, infrastructure investments, transportation and building electrification investments, and reforestation and conservation grants.

We looked at jobs created annually over a 10-year period, compensation, taxes and the return on investment for each federal dollar spent.

Impacts generated by the $12.6 billion in federal climate investments in Pennsylvania include:

  • Nearly 23,100 jobs supported annually for 10 years (a total of 230,700 job-years), or 18.3 jobs per million dollars of federal investment.
  • More than $1.9 billion in value-added annually for 10 years – $1.52 for every federal dollar invested.
  • About $1.1 billion generated in employee compensation annually for 10 years.
  • Nearly $178.2 million in annual local, state, and federal tax revenue for 10 years.

Looking more closely at the numbers for Pennsylvania, we see that climate investments play to Pennsylvania’s economic strengths and our leadership in energy, construction trades, and the hardwood forest products sectors.

Pennsylvania is a top energy exporter and net power producer, providing energy resources for many neighboring states. Here, climate investments have a boosting effect adding nearly 3,500 annual jobs, primarily through construction activities and retrofitting facilities and infrastructure for carbon management as well as building new clean energy. Here, the compensation levels and overall economic benefit per job are higher than in other sectors. Jobs in the energy and construction sectors also enjoy a higher percentage of labor union representation in Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania ranks first in the country for hardwood-based forest products and board feet of hardwood production per year. The investments outlined in the climate package include incentives to encourage practices that sequester carbon through forest product innovation, improve commercial logging practices, and advance the science of timber tract management. Altogether this investment is projected to lead to nearly 8,200 jobs for this Pennsylvania stalwart industry and its related supply chains.

 

Siting Renewable Energy on Former Mine Lands

There is tremendous potential in Pennsylvania to repurpose out-of-use mine lands and industrial locations into sites that generate renewable energy, provide jobs, and power the local and state economy. By approving enhanced tax credits to encourage the development of renewable energy on former mine lands and brownfields, Congress can help revitalize these sites, bring all the benefits of clean electricity to Pennsylvania, and ease the pressure to develop renewable energy on prime farmland or valuable natural areas.

Fall colors of red and orange begin to show on a green forested mountain ridge.
Cumberland Forest The Nature Conservancy's Cumberland Forest project protects 253,000 acres of Appalachian forest and is one of TNC's largest-ever conservation efforts in the eastern United States. © Byron Jorjorian

Building Climate Resilience

As rising temperatures and other climate impacts threaten to destabilize natural areas across the United States and around the world, TNC scientists are identifying ecologically diverse and connected landscapes capable of supporting native wildlife while providing drinking water, clean air, fertile soil and other important natural services to people.

TNC has identified two Pennsylvania landscapes capable of standing up to a changing climate, if they are protected to strengthen resilience:

In these places, TNC is working with partners to implement innovative, science-based tools and conservation approaches that preserve lands and waters today to benefit nature and people in the future. One approach includes conserving forests through our Working Woodlands program, which engages private landowners in permanently protecting and managing healthy and productive forests to support both nature and local livelihoods.

As part of Working Woodlands, TNC quantifies carbon stored in enrolled forests to qualify them for an emerging carbon market where companies and other institutions purchase carbon credits from willing sellers to offset their own emissions.

Large puffy white clouds hang low over a field of solar panels.
Solar Panels A field of solar panels produce energy for a nearby community. © American Public Power Association

Transitioning to Clean Energy

TNC supports Pennsylvania's efforts to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy. Specifically, TNC is communicating and promoting the benefits of renewable energy alternatives and energy efficiency practices to policy makers, businesses and private citizens living and working in Pennsylvania.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Pennsylvania’s energy efficiency industry is responsible for nearly 62,000 jobs, a number that will only grow as the state transitions to cleaner and more efficient energy solutions. It is time to catch up to neighboring states that are surpassing Pennsylvania in pursuit of clean energy goals, jobs and greener economy.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are good for Pennsylvania. Both generate jobs and promote economic growth while benefiting nature and the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.

TNC's Climate and Energy Policy Manager in Pennsylvania
A white car is parked in front of an electric charging station. A heavy black cord is plugged into the car.
Electric Car An electric car parks at a charging station. © Michael Simons

Influencing Change Through Policy

Pennsylvania is a major contributor to the pollution that causes climate change: The state is ranked fifth in the country for carbon dioxide emissions. The Keystone State is also the largest net exporter of electricity in the country, supplying power to many states within the regional grid. Actions to reduce Pennsylvania emissions and to encourage our elected leaders to prioritize climate action are essential to overall success in the United States.

In 2021, Pennsylvania continued its path to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). We appreciate the efforts of our Trustees who engaged with their state senators and state representatives to voice support for this important climate action. We also applaud the 600-plus members of the TNC community in Pennsylvania who contacted their elected officials through our action center page outreach and emails.

The Nature Conservancy advances policy solutions that work for people and nature in the U.S. and in countries around the world. Our policy recommendations are drawn from the hands-on experience of decades of working with people from all walks of life, with businesses and industries, and with governments from the local, national and global levels.

Two hands shake in agreement.
Handshake Collaboration across borders and sectors is essential to tackling climate change. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatives

In the Fall of 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Commonwealth would join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—a practical, market-based program that has helped nine other states in the Northeast reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power production. We believe this is a positive step for Pennsylvania and are encouraged by the Governor’s action.

RGGI has proven to be an important tool for participating states, cutting harmful emissions while stimulating investments in clean energy and energy efficiency for homeowners, businesses and local governments, as well as providing benefits to forest conservation.

Climate change is a fundamental threat to our conservation mission in Pennsylvania. The experience of RGGI suggests it has the potential to deliver significant reductions in CO2, while spurring the Commonwealth’s transition to a vibrant clean energy economy. 

Tree seedlings grow in plastic containers.
Tree Seedlings Seedlings grow in plastic containers at a nursery. © Scott Warren

Natural Climate Solutions

With Natural Climate Solutions we can help fight climate change by planting trees, promoting soil health, and protecting our wetlands and coastal ecosystems. These strategies can play a significant role in reducing atmospheric carbon, with the potential benefit equivalent to one fifth of our nation’s current net emissions – that’s the same as eliminating emissions from all cars and light duty trucks in America. Significantly increasing our investments in Natural Climate Solutions, in addition to increased energy efficiency and a rapid transition to zero-carbon energy sources, is our best hope for dealing with the climate crisis.

Talking About Climate Change

For many people, talking about climate change can seem scary or divisive. In this video, a panel of TNC staff from Pennsylvania and Delaware help get the conversation started. During this virtual event, they walk through TNC's easy to use 5-step guide, provide local examples and offer anecdotes to show that we can talk about climate. They're joined by special guest "Doppler Dan" Tomaso, Harrisburg ABC27 News meteorologist.

Let's Talk About Climate (1:00:08) Your voice has the power to get real dialogue started.