By Jon Delano
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Warning that climate change is all too real – "The threat that we're confronting is not an abstract problem" – Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
The order, says Wolf, will commit that "the Commonwealth will work to achieve a 26 percent reduction in net greenhouse gases by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by the year 2050."
At a press conference with elected officials at the Heinz History Center, Wolf and environmentalists noted that global warming cannot be ignored with seventeen of the world's warmest years occurring in the last two decades.
"We've seen super-storms. We've seen unprecedented wildfires. We've seen severe droughts and floods, ocean acidification, and much, much more," listed Dan Grossman from the Environmental Defense Fund.
While carbon dioxide is a major problem, methane emissions from natural gas are also a key contributor to global warming, says Grossman.
"When it's emitted to the atmosphere, methane is more than 80 percent more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide," he said.
Methane is also valuable at cracker plants to produce plastics, so capturing methane makes good economic sense, which is why Peoples Gas CEO Morgan O'Brien says his company has embraced new technology like this vehicle with a methane gas detector to find leaks in gas pipelines yielding a methane map of leaks.
"In 2019 by fixing 20 percent of those larger leaks in the city of Pittsburgh, we can reduce methane by 50 percent," says O'Brien.
And because of the industry-government-academic partnership, noted Grant Ervin, the sustainability manager for the City of Pittsburgh, "Pittsburgh is one of five cities around the world who is at the leading edge in terms of carbon emissions measurement and methane reduction."