WPPSEF Sponsors Deep Carbon Reduction Conference

August 3, 2017

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) hosted Achieving Deep Carbon Reductions: Paths for Pennsylvania’s Electricity Future, and released a white paper summarizing the findings of this March 2017 conference.

“Deep decarbonization” refers to the goal of reducing emissions 80% or more by 2050, which most climate scientists agree will be necessary to minimize the most severe impacts of continuing climate change. While this effort will demand substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors of the economy, the conference focused specifically on Pennsylvania’s electricity sector – the largest source of emissions in the Commonwealth.

Participants in PEC’s conference – including representatives of the energy industry, academia, economic development entities, and NGOs – reached consensus on two key points: that there is no “silver bullet” for reducing emissions, and that essentially all current sources of electricity can have a significant role to play in this transition.

The report released today sets forth 15 recommended steps for Pennsylvania based on priorities that emerged at the conference. These steps include:

  • promoting energy efficiency
  • modernizing the electricity grid and utility business models
  • advancing renewable energy
  • preserving the existing nuclear fleet
  • reducing methane emissions

In addition, the paper addresses issues relating to carbon capture, utilization, and storage as a way to utilize fossil fuels with fewer carbon emissions, as well as issues surrounding new technologies for generating energy from nuclear power.

“PEC is very pleased with this report, and owes a great debt of gratitude to all the conference participants for their insights,” said PEC President Davitt Woodwell.

Next Steps

Following the release of the report, and building upon the outcomes reflected therein, PEC’s initial priority will be investigating the potential for carbon pricing at the state and/or regional level. “Putting a price on carbon, whether through a fee, tradable credit, or some other mechanism, is a technologically agnostic way of moving toward decarbonization,” Woodwell said. PEC will host a roundtable discussion to further explore this topic in September.

PEC plans to host additional roundtables during the remainder of 2017 to further explore other topics discussed at the conference, with the goal of releasing more concrete recommendations in early 2018.

“One of the key points that emerged from the conference presentations and participant feedback was the importance of utilizing a variety of energy sources to achieve decarbonization,” said Lindsay Baxter, PEC’s Program Manager for Energy and Climate. “The urgency of climate change requires us to consider a portfolio approach.”


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