Pa. businesses, higher ed institutions urge state leaders to accelerate a low-carbon future

By: | November 25, 2019

Major businesses and higher education institutions across Pennsylvania called on state lawmakers today to prioritize policies that will accelerate the Commonwealth’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

More than a dozen investors, companies, colleges and universities, including American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), DSM, Friends Fiduciary Corporation, Mars, Inc., Haverford College and Villanova University, among others, sent a letter to the Pennsylvania General Assembly urging lawmakers to enact market-based solutions aimed at reducing carbon pollution and increase in-state investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation.

“Pennsylvania has been an energy leader for centuries, but the current energy system is at a turning point. In order to maintain our energy leadership, the Commonwealth should embrace clean energy and foster the rapid transition to a thriving, low-carbon economy,” they wrote in the letter.

Businesses and higher education institutions in Pennsylvania are already scaling up investments to reduce carbon pollution in their own operations as a way to meet stakeholder expectations, strengthen the economy and create new local jobs.

“AEO recently unveiled new sustainability goals, including a comprehensive plan to achieve carbon neutrality in all of our owned and operated facilities by 2030. Holding ourselves accountable and building a better world for generations to come is fundamental to our brands, values and purpose,” commented Michael Rempell, Chief Operations Officer at AEO Inc., which is headquartered in Pittsburgh. “We are proud to stand with Pennsylvania’s business leaders and academic institutions as we work together with state lawmakers to advance clean energy solutions.”

“Our students at Haverford understand that the energy policies our leaders enact today will shape the world they and their communities will inherit,” said President Wendy Raymond, Haverford College. “Pennsylvania has an opportunity to promote energy systems, economic innovation and public health that will make the Commonwealth stronger in the low-carbon future that we know is coming.”

“Mars, Incorporated is committed to climate action and delivering on our science-based targets to help drive a low-carbon future,” said Ashley Allen, climate and land senior manager at Mars, which makes its Dove chocolates in Lancaster County. “Smart policies here in Pennsylvania help us and other companies invest in climate and energy solutions, and help Pennsylvania grow its economy sustainably and create new local jobs.”

“Nestlé powers about 75% of the electricity needs at our five Pennsylvania facilities with renewable energy, and we are working toward 100% renewable energy across all of our operations globally,” said Megan Villarreal, policy and public affairs at Nestlé, which operates five facilities in Lehigh and Cumberland Counties. “Transitioning to clean energy is not only the right thing to do, it also helps us to save money and stay competitive. With the right policies in place, Pennsylvania can attract more corporate clean energy investments and strengthen the state’s economy.”

Additional quotes from companies and higher education institutions can be found below.

Last month Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the Commonwealth will begin the process of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional market-based program to curb carbon pollution from power plants. Since it began in 2009, participating states have reduced carbon emissions by nearly 50%. At the same time, economic growth in participating states has surged and electricity prices have decreased despite an increase in average national electricity prices. The Pennsylvania General Assembly can make the most of this market-based program for Pennsylvanians by ensuring proceeds are used to invest in clean energy solutions that will save businesses and consumers money.

Lawmakers are also considering complementary legislation to tackle carbon pollution and grow private investments in clean energy and clean transportation in the Keystone State, such as the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act as well as legislation to expand state renewable energy standards and strengthen Act 129 energy efficiency programs.

About Ceres

Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. For more information, visit www.ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.

About Second Nature

Second Nature is committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. This is accomplished by mobilizing a diverse array of higher education institutions to act on bold climate commitments, to scale campus climate initiatives, and to create innovative climate solutions. Second Nature aims to align, amplify, and bridge the sector’s efforts with other global leaders to advance urgent climate priorities. For more information visit www.secondnature.org.