Chester County commissioners recently adopted a new climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 80% by 2050.
The Chester County Board of Commissioners voted Oct. 7 to adopt the Climate Action Plan, according to a news release. A series of public meetings and public comment influenced the plan developed by the Chester County Planning Commissioner, which provides an update to the energy savings initiatives suggested in the 2010 Greenhouse Gas Report.
“We have to address global climate change at every level of government and collaboration if we are going to create a healthier planet and maintain our quality of life,” said commissioner chairwoman Marian Moskowitz in the release. “The action we take today sets an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goal but one we believe is imperative and attainable.”
With the anticipated 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the goal of the Climate Action Plan is for cleaner air and, in turn, improve public health, according to the release. Other benefits include saving money through more energy efficient vehicles, lessening environmental damage and creating jobs.
The plan reports that in 2018 there were 91,000 clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania, an increase from 57,000 clean energy jobs in 2014.
Over the last century, temperatures in Pennsylvania have increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection website. The department expects that by 2050, temperatures will rise by another 5.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We were reminded all too well last month of the real effects of climate change as flooding devastated several communities and affected thousands of people in our county,” said commissioner Josh Maxwell in the release. “The flooding was the most significant in my lifetime, and we know it will only get worse unless we take steps like those outlined in the plan.”
Outside of county-owned facilities, the Chester County government does not have direct control over many actions cited in the Climate Action Plan. Instead, “many of the actions will require coordination and cooperation with local communities, municipal governments and other stakeholders,” according to the release.
In 2015, the county greenhouse gases totaled 7.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, with a net emissions of 7 million metric tons, according to the plan. The county accounts for a 2.5% share of statewide global emissions.
The commercial and industrial energy sector produced nearly half of the county’s emissions in 2015.
Chester’s Climate Action Plan outlines seven pages of actions the county and its inhabitants can take to reduce emissions including creating a webpage to track the county’s energy efficiency initiatives, analyzing the potential to expand on-site solar energy generation and a continuation of initiatives to switch over to LED lighting.
More than 170 were in attendance at a March public meeting to discuss the plan and the county received 130 additional comments via email and an online comment portal, according to the release.
“We very much appreciate the interest and input from county residents that went into this plan,” said Chester County Planning Commission executive director Brian O’Leary in the release. “People are seeing and feeling the effects of climate change and most strongly agree that we need to accelerate mitigation efforts.”