Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

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13 Aug 2019 8:29 AM | Alex Bandarenko

DEP Seeking Interns to Work with Communities on Climate Change

PADEP (Pennsylvania Department of EnvironmentalProtection) is trying to recruit upper-level undergraduate or graduate students for their local government climate action assistance program.  Below is their scope of work for this program. The PADEP is currently seeking students for the fall semester, but will eventually also be looking for students for the spring semester 2020.  Any senior-level or graduate student who needs to complete an internship for college credit or a capstone project as part of their coursework would be fair game to participate. A whole class could also take on one or two local governments, as part of their coursework, so that format is another to consider.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach for engaging students in this program. The PADEP is open to your ideas and what works for your university/college.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania released an updated Climate Action Plan (CAP) in April 2019, the fourth version of the strategy.  Recognizing the need for the Commonwealth and local governments to lead by example, the Commonwealth desires to ignite a movement of local government climate action to both mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and address impacts of extreme weather events already impacting local Pennsylvania communities.


One strategy to reduce the long-term impacts caused by climate change is to reduce GHG emissions. Establishing a baseline and comparative GHG measurement is a fundamental first step for a city, town or county committed to reducing carbon emissions. Once the baseline of emissions and opportunities for mitigation is known, a set of GHG mitigation actions can be identified and evaluated. This evaluation and prioritization of actions to reduce emissions is core to developing a CAP.


In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, many local governments have yet to complete GHG inventories or climate action plans. In partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) will guide a group of up to 20 Pennsylvania local governments and college students as they complete GHG inventories using a common accounting methodology, ClearPath, which is a cloud-based tool.  Additionally, the cohort of local governments and college students will be guided through the process of developing a local CAP to mitigate emissions and engage community members.  DEP will work with PA universities & colleges to try and match a student with each participating local government, so they can be assisted in the process of developing their GHG inventories and CAPs.


ICLEI will provide software, live webinar sessions with open Q&A, one-on-one technical assistance as needed, self-paced e-learning modules, facilitated peer networking, and guidance through specific tasks for target setting, forecasting emission reductions, identifying benefits and costs of mitigation actions, and strategies to engage community members.


The ability of local governments to complete their inventories and CAPs is highly dependent on (1) the availability of data to complete the inventory, and (2) the level of participation of the local government staff member and/or college student. 


Timeline:  We anticipate matching students with local governments by the end of August 2019.  The kick-off call with all participating local governments & students will be held in late August/early September.  All work must be completed by June 30, 2020.


Time Commitments:  For fall semester, the student would need 40-90 hours to complete the GHG inventory.  The time requirement is dependent on how much the local government actually wants to assist/co-lead the effort with the student, as well as how readily-accessible the data is from utilities.  For spring semester (climate action plan cohort), the students would need to devote approximately 10-15 hours per week. All of this work can be done remotely, so the student does not need to be located near the county or municipality they are assisting.  However, we do have money in our budget for ICLEI to reimburse students for mileage, if they do want to meet with their local government in person or attend a Township/Borough meeting. 

If you are interested please contact Heidi Kunka at the PA DEP!

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