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Pa. undecided on climate change memo

Greg Gross
505-5433/@ggrossyd
  • Governments around the world are signing on to the Under 2 MOU

Whether Pennsylvania will join other U.S. states and government entities across the world in signing a memo aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains to be seen.

The plan, called Under 2 MOU (memorandum of understanding), was unveiled by California and Baden-Württemberg, Germany, ahead of the COP 21 meeting in Paris, where nearly 200 nations agreed on the first global pact to fight climate change on Saturday.

Since then, nearly 125 entities across the globe — including New York state and city, New Hampshire, Oregon, Connecticut and Ontario, Canada — have signed the memo. Under the memo, entities commit to limit emissions to between 80 percent and 95 percent of 1990 levels (or below 2 metric tons per capita, hence the name of the memo), by 2050. Advocates believe that would limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

“Pennsylvania has not made any decisions regarding the 'Under 2 MOU,'" Jeff Sheridan,a  spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf, wrote in a statement.

However, he wrote, the administration is "working to put together a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including a Clean Power Plan, tailored to the commonwealth, that will reduce power plant emissions 32 percent by 2030; and actions to reduce methane emissions from gas drilling as well as support for renewable energy... and other energy efficiency measures."

Paris: The memo is similar to the deal reached by world leaders in France.

Under the Paris agreement, countries pledged to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to levels trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.

The deal commits countries to keeping the rise in global temperatures by the year 2100 "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and says the signers will "endeavor to limit" them even more, to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The world has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times.

The agreement must be ratified by individual governments before taking effect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.