Comments on the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0

Pittsburgh is taking comments on their DRAFT Climate Action Plan 3.0 through Friday (tomorrow, 10/6/17). You may submit your own comments on the DRAFT Plan (link) via e-mail to

I’m sharing my comments publicly below to spark dialogue. While I feel the what IS shown is a reasonable start, it stops short of sufficiently bending the CO2 emissions curve for our city to meaningfully address the climate crisis. Significantly more action is required.

  1. As a city, we need to “mind the gap” between our anticipated carbon emissions reductions and what the science calls for to reach at most 1.5C above pre-industrial levels (per COP21 Paris Climate Agreement). If all cities and nations accomplished the goals that we have set for ourselves, what would be the net result? If the result is insufficient, who do we expect to fill that gap for us OR what plan can we put in place to address this gap? This is the essential question for the entire plan. It is foolish to create a plan that explicitly has no chance of accomplishing a given goal unless part of the plan seeks remedy of that problem. Consider reviewing the following website to get a better idea of what our climate would like like if all other nations were held to our goals:

  2. Carbon sequestration is essential to a successful climate plan. More emphasis should be placed on endeavors to sequester CO2 via investments in technology, universities, land use, etc.

  3. Refugees will become common in a climate-changed world. How can Pittsburgh prepare to support global climate refugee populations in the coming decades?

  4. Our region cannot support a petrochemical industry expansion if we expect to realize our climate goals. The Shell Ethane Cracker alone may well emit as much CO2 as ⅓ of all sources in the City of Pittsburgh, and more crackers are under active consideration, let alone additional polluting support facilities. Pittsburgh leadership must take a public stand against the Shell Ethane Cracker and related petrochemical industry build-out if their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement is to be taken seriously. Read more about the connection between the Shell Cracker and climate change in this piece that I wrote: . Part of stopping the petrochemical build-out must include a ban on fracking state-wide, then nation-wide. Any conversation about climate change that assumes the Shell Cracker must inevitably be constructed is inherently unproductive.

  5. I really like how the plan connects air quality to climate change. Since the vast majority of our air quality problems relate to fossil fuels, if we remove the fossil fuels we win on BOTH climate change AND air quality.

  6. The CO2e of methane is inconsistent between statements on pages 18 and 29. I prefer to use the higher estimate.

  7. Do not use industry estimates for methane/natural gas leakage, as those estimates are very likely much lower than other research indicates. Consider this report:

  8. We should consider whether it is worthwhile to replace all the gas lines instead of just turning them all off and moving our entire city to electronic heating and cooling. Then we can move the grid to renewable power and be done with related CO2 emissions.

  9. Pittsburgh’s district energy plan must be able to convert to 100% renewable sources immediately after construction. Otherwise that investment may be orphaned when we realize how few CO2e emissions we may put into the atmosphere and still expect to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement terms.

  10. I did not see any explicit support for electric bicycles. That would be a welcome addition, as it makes biking accessible to a wider range of people over a broader geographical area.

  11. Any conversions to natural gas are foolish when we must move immediately over to full electrification of most industrial engines and processes (particularly relates to boats, p65)

  12. It would be helpful if there was more effort put towards integrating the section on the circular economy into classrooms, policy, and communities.


Update 11/29/17 – I just got out of a public hearing held by the Pittsburgh City Council regarding their Climate Action Plan 3.0. There was a great crowd in attendance and several dozen comments shared by the public. I have summarized some of the key points I feel are worth sharing below. Feel free to add your own in comments…

  • MANY comments touched on themes of needing more concrete implementation steps in the plan, along with additional budget and staff formally allocated to support that implementation.
  • MANY people talked about the Shell Cracker and how the climate goals in the plan were not compatible with the petrochemical build-out underway throughout the SWPA and Ohio/PA/WV region.
  • MANY people talked emotionally about the horrible air quality in Pittsburgh and how they viewed the climate plan as a pathway to address some of these issues.
  • Additional comments touched on these valuable issues:
    • Addressing inequality in a transition to a low carbon economy
    • Increasing the attractiveness of the city for bicyclists and increasing the goals for bicycle commuting.
    • Consider measuring “energy productivity” measured as the economic output per unit of CO2 emissions.
    • Seek transparency in the process.

2 thoughts on “Comments on the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0

  1. Pingback: Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan – Public Hearing – #NoPetroPA

  2. Pingback: Second Ethane Cracker Decision Coming Soon – #NoPetroPA

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