DEP Launches Nation’s Second State-Led Climate Leadership Academy

Climate ChangeImage by Ray Shrewsberry

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this week announced that Pennsylvania became the second state in the nation to provide state-sponsored climate training with the recent launch of its Pennsylvania Climate Leadership Academy.

The Pennsylvania Climate Leadership Academy provides free online programs to leaders in state and local government offices, business and industry, agriculture, infrastructure, and community organizations who want to help Pennsylvania meet the challenges of climate change.

More than 150 participants enrolled in its first program, “Climate Leadership Activator,” which began last week. The academy joins the DEP Local Climate Action Program in climate change education resources from the agency.

“DEP is committed to climate-related educational outreach and technical assistance to meet the growing need among leaders statewide for an understanding of climate change impacts and planning to reduce risk here in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “How will more intense heatwaves affect our community? How will extreme rainfall and flooding events affect our farmers and supply chains? What can we put in place to lessen disruption? Are there potential opportunities for benefit? These are some of the questions being asked by leaders working to protect Pennsylvanians’ health, safety, and livelihoods and the natural resources we all depend on.”

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Climate Leadership Activator will be followed by a Certified Climate Change Professional program in October, and both programs will be offered again in 2022.

Climate Leadership Activator provides participants a foundational understanding of the risks and potential opportunities that climate change presents in Pennsylvania. It examines impacts on organizational mission, operations, and stakeholders and identifies opportunities to advance readiness and solutions grounded in economic vitality, public health, and security.

Climate impact knowledge can provide a sound base for local climate action planning. The DEP Local Climate Action Program, also free and online, trains municipalities to create an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions. They determine their climate change-related vulnerabilities and, with community input, draft a local climate action plan based on recommendations from the DEP Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan.

The program pairs municipalities with college students from around the state who help research emissions and other plan components.

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The Local Climate Action Program began its third year in August, with the following 12 participants representing 121 municipalities:

  • Borough of Swissvale in Allegheny County
  • Camp Hill Borough in Cumberland County
  • Carnegie Borough in Allegheny County
  • Delaware County
  • Lehigh Valley Planning Commission
  • Lewisburg Borough in Union County
  • Milford Borough in Pike County
  • Millersville Borough in Lancaster County
  • Rutledge Borough in Delaware County
  • Township of O’Hara in Allegheny County
  • Warrington Township in Bucks County
  • West Bradford Township in Chester County

Since it launched in 2019, the Local Climate Action Program has had 53 local government participants, representing over 380 counties, cities, townships, and boroughs statewide.

Pennsylvania’s average temperature has risen almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. DEP’s Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment 2021 uses federal, state, and local data to show that, unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut significantly, Pennsylvania will likely be another 5.9 degrees hotter by midcentury. Increased heatwaves and extreme rainfall events will have considerable consequences for the health and safety of Pennsylvanians, especially those living in Environmental Justice communities, and for ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure, and other areas.

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DEP provides information on statewide greenhouse gas emissions and projected climate change impacts, as well as the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan, updated every three years, at www.dep.pa.gov/climate. The 2021 Climate Action Plan will be issued this fall.

DEP supports the Pennsylvania Climate Leadership Academy and Local Climate Action Program with federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program.

In its role as a co-chair of the GreenGov Council, DEP provides programmatic support for the Pennsylvania Climate Leadership Academy. The academy is managed by the Association of Climate Change Officers.

Maryland was the first state to offer a Climate Leadership Academy.

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