Pittsburgh is in the process of developing its third climate action plan (PCAP 3.0) to analyze and implement strategies, policies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within city limits and mitigate Pittsburgh’s contribution to global climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions, measured by their global warming potential in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and cause a rise in average global temperatures, which in turn causes climate change that manifests in extreme weather, sea level rise, and ice melt, among other effects. The more greenhouse gasses that are present in our atmosphere, the more extreme consequences we will experience in the form of storms, droughts, flooding, and extreme heating and cooling events, which will negatively affect ecosystems, food production, infrastructure and human health.
We have already begun to experience the effects of climate change in Pittsburgh with colder winters, and we know Pennsylvania can expect longer and hotter summers, decreased winter snowpack and increased rainfall. We need coordinated, concentrated and comprehensive carbon mitigation action now to reduce the severity of regional impacts and prepare for a low carbon economy.
Image Source: EPA.gov
Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get. – Mark Twain
In the first Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan (PCAP 1.0), we committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 2003 levels by 2023 and outlined strategies for local government, businesses, higher education institutions and communities to help achieve that goal. The Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, a coalition of local government, nonprofit, business and institutional organizations, formed to implement, assess and update climate action strategies.
The baseline community greenhouse gas inventory estimated that more than 6.6 million tons CO2e of greenhouse gases were emitted by residential, commercial and industrial electricity and natural gas consumption; on road transportation; and waste generation in 2003 within Pittsburgh city limits.
In 2008, the five-year benchmark community greenhouse gas inventory estimated that Pittsburgh emitted 6.8 million tons of greenhouse gases. The increase can be attributed in part to new inventory protocols, better data, increased consumption and more severe weather.
Following the 2008 inventory, the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative drafted the second version of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan (PCAP 2.0) to track progress on previous recommendations and propose innovative strategies to achieve our target and reduce Pittsburgh emissions to below 5.3 million tons CO2e by 2023.
The 2013 10-year benchmark greenhouse gas inventory is currently underway to assess our carbon reduction progress and guide the development of our third Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan. Follow the process and get involved at pittsburghclimate.org.
Also, as we undertake our climate action planning process, we are simultaneously developing a resilience strategy for Pittsburgh and the region to improve the capacity of our citizens, communities, businesses and institutions to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks we might face, like the effects of climate change. Find out more and join us at resilient.pittsburghpa.gov.