Ferguson Township pledges net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050


President Donald Trump may be withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, but state, business and local leaders have stepped up to the plate across the nation to take action on climate change. Ferguson Township is doing the same.

The Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution that, among other things, commits the township to develop and implement a strategy to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.

The Paris agreement’s “central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” according to the United Nations.

The adoption of the resolution, drafted by Supervisor Peter Buckland, spurred a round of applause from the audience.

“I feel really great about it because when I ran originally, one of the things that I wanted to be able to put forward was some kind of climate resolution to develop a climate plan for the township and here it is,” Buckland said.

Through the resolution, the board also pledged to lead by example to pursue the goals in a transparent, fair and economically responsible manner and to engage peer governments, nongovernmental organizations, universities and businesses to raise awareness and identify courses of action to reduce the effects of climate change.

The resolution states that Pennsylvania contributes about 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Ed Perry, of College Township, said he’s a “big supporter” of the resolution because he sees the impacts of climate change already on the state’s natural resources.

“We are in the process of losing our state fish, our state tree and our state bird,” said Perry, Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation.

Those being the brook trout, hemlock and ruffed grouse.

Hemlocks are being killed by the woolly adelgid — an invasive insect species — that used to be confined to Virginia, Perry said. Now that the winters are warmer, the woolly adelgid is moving up through the Northeast.

As the hemlocks go, so do the brook trout because they’re closely allied, he said.

The state has already lost 33 percent of its brook trout habitat and is expected to lose the rest by 2100, Perry said.

There are also some serious human health effects that will need to be dealt with as the temperature increases, he said.

Now that the resolution has been adopted, the township will get to work on the plan, Buckland said.

And that’ll take a while, he said, but Ferguson Township is already at work on a number of things that tackle parts of what would be included in a plan.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz