The third panel discussed leadership on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, reduction planning and strategies from the United States and other communities around the world. There were two speakers on the panel, Shaunna Barnhart from Becknell University, and Tom Simpson from Franklin and Marshal College. Barnhart spoke about national organizations that work with government and leaders. One of these organizations is the National Association of Counties which helps communities track how much energy they are using and help them switch to solar power. Simpson talked about some of the work that was done in Copenhagen Denmark where there is a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025 and 100% renewable energy in 2025. Copenhagen is using a “Smart Energy System” that is considering heating and cooling, electricity, smart grids and transport.
There was a 5 minute presentation from PERC sponsor Chris O’Brien, who works for the company Altenex, preceding the fourth panel. The fourth panel focused on adaptation and resilience work at the local government level. There were two speakers at the panel, Richard Freeh, the City Energy Project Manager from the Office of Sustainability in Philadelphia, and Robert Graff, the manager at the Office of Energy and Climate Solutions for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Freeh talked about how the climate has changed in Philadelphia, and talked about an Adaptation Planning Process that he had been working on to prepare for Philadelphia’s warmer and wetter climate in the future. Graff also discussed climate change adaptation including flooding in new areas and storm water infrastructure that is nearing capacity.
After an hour and 15 minute lunch, the fifth panel began on the topic of support for the PERC and state partnership on local government climate change programs from local government organizations in Pennsylvania. There were two speakers in the panel, Ed Knittel, from the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, and Jim Price, who works for Sustainable Pittsburgh. Knittel talked about how Boroughs are centers for jobs in government, education, and health jobs and about the boroughs’ change in the dynamic of energy and sustainability. Price discussed how his company creates a rapid assessment for over 150 municipalities and how he wants to get the same amount of work done with fewer resources and less staff.
The last panel regarded interest in the program from Pennsylvania state government and the EPA. There were a total of six speakers in the sixth panel, some of them where Megan S. Goold, from the office of Air Partnership Programs with the United States EPA, and Keith Wells, who has the Deputy State Treasurer for Fiscal Operations and Senior Advisor for Policy position at the PA Treasury Department. Goold talked about how colleges can be mediators and about the kinds of impacts expected from climate change. Wells discussed the residential energy efficiency program. The program is a keystone help program, has been a model for other states, and would be able to reduce tax on energy consumption. The meeting finished with a PERC brainstorming and strategic planning session where the goals of the program and the role of higher education were discussed. Donald Brown said that the most important thing for people to do is to reduce greenhouse gases.
“It’s important to try to get everybody to massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not just people, but schools, and governments as well,” Brown said.