This page provides an overview of the steps Pennsylvania is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Adaptation planning in Pennsylvania was driven by the enactment of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008, which called for development of a climate impacts assessment and development of a climate change action plan. The Act also established a state Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) for advising the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement the Act’s requirements. On February 27, 2009, CCAC passed a motion, with unanimous support, calling for inclusion of recommendations to address climate change adaptation in a report to the governor and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. On March 18, 2010, CCAC initiated a planning process to develop an adaptation report. Four work groups were created organized around the following sectors: infrastructure, public health and safety, natural resources, and tourism and outdoor recreation.
As a result of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008, DEP is required to assess the state’s climate impacts every three years. Since 2008, DEP has released three climate impact assessments. All of these assessments provide extensive background information on global climate change, climate models, and climate change projections for Pennsylvania. The first Pennsylvania Climate Impact Assessment was released in 2009 and examined the impacts of climate change on climate-sensitive sectors including agriculture, ecosystems and fisheries, forests, energy, outdoor recreation and tourism, human health, water, insurance, and the general economy. In 2013, Pennsylvania State University’s Environment and Natural Resources Institute prepared the 2013 Pennsylvania Climate Assessment, which included updates on the state’s climate vulnerabilities by using improved climate models. The 2013 assessment included updates for all the sectors considered in the previous report except insurance and the general economy. The most recent update of the Pennsylvania Climate Assessment was in 2015, which updates the 2013 assessment’s sectoral conclusions based on new scientific findings, data, and analyses.
On January 27, 2011, CCAC released the Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report: Risks and Practical Recommendations (“2011 Plan”). The 2011 Plan includes goals identified by each of the workgroups (i.e., infrastructure, public health and safety, natural resources, and tourism and outdoor recreation) to minimize the impacts of climate change on Pennsylvania. Each workgroup considered impacts in multiple areas and sub-sectors. For example, the infrastructure work group analyzed transportation, energy, water, communications infrastructure, buildings, and land use. Each work group also identified key risks and vulnerabilities and developed specific goals to address these risks. In addition, the Plan included cross-cutting goals like establishing a climate adaptation team within the state government and accounting for adaptation in all future state Climate Action Plans.
These pages highlight the progress Pennsylvania is making in implementing the goals set forth in the 2011 Plan. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Pennsylvania prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: July 18, 2018).
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008||Law and Governance||July 9, 2008|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources and Climate Change - Planning for the Future||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Forestry, Land management and conservation, Water resources, Wildlife||September 9, 2015|
|Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report: Risks and Practical Recommendations||Agriculture and food, Energy, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Land use and built environment, Public health, Tourism and recreation, Transportation, Water resources, Wildlife||2011|
|Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Resilience Strategy||March 2017|
|Growing Stronger: Toward A Climate-Ready Philadelphia||November 2015|
|City of Chester, Pennsylvania Vision 2020: Climate Adaptation Planning Elements||June 25, 2014|
|Green City, Clean Waters - City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||June 2011|
|City of Philadelphia Cool Roof Law and Building Code||May 2010|
|Delaware County, Pennsylvania Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk – Transportation Sector||2010|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Pennsylvania Climate Impact Assessment - 2013 Update||Assessments||October 2013|
|Identifying Species in Pennsylvania Potentially Vulnerable to Climate Change||Assessments||June 2011|
|Weathering Climate Change: Framing Strategies to Minimize Impacts on Pennsylvania Ecosystems and Wildlife||Solutions||March 24, 2010|
|Economic Impacts of Projected Climate Change in Pennsylvania||Assessments||November 4, 2009|
|Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment - 2009||Assessments||June 29, 2009|
|Climate Change in Pennsylvania: Impacts and Solutions for the Keystone State||Assessments||October 2008|