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GASP Encourages Community Leaders to Apply for FREE Climate Action Training to Help Improve Local Air Quality

What if we told you there was a way for local municipal officials to receive FREE training to conduct inventories of local greenhouse gas emissions and develop plans to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change risk in their communities?

Because that opportunity currently exists and the deadline for communities to express their interest is coming up FAST.

We’re talking, of course, about the DEP Local Climate Action Program. Initiated in 2019, it has provided training to 53 entities, representing approximately 380 municipalities across Pennsylvania.

Here’s how it works: 

The DEP Local Climate Action Program pairs municipalities with ICLEI, a national nonprofit that fosters sustainable development, and with college students to perform inventories of greenhouse gas emissions from local buildings, transportation, waste management, and other sectors.  

The teams also identify the particular climate-related vulnerabilities in their communities, such as flooding from extreme rainfall and public health impacts from extreme heat, and disproportionate impacts on residents who live in environmental justice areas. 

After reviewing recommendations in the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan, teams use a template to draft local climate action plans to lower emissions and increase resilience to climate change impacts. Once they complete their plans, municipalities are eligible for free services from an energy management consultant, coordinated by DEP, to determine the most effective first steps to reduce emissions.

The unfortunate news is that just three local communities took advantage of the training program this past year – Carnegie and Swissvale boroughs and O’Hara Township, all in Allegheny County.

The great news is that local officials have until June 30 to let the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection know their communities are interested in participating in this year’s program, which begins later this summer.

If you need a little inspiration, here’s what Swissvale Borough Councilman Shawn Alfonso had to say about the training:

“Swissvale knows that the future gets made now. Planning and preparing for the future with sustainability and environmental health in mind will make our borough and families stronger. With cleaner air and more sustainability, we not only improve our own environment, but also have an impact on areas around us, and pretty soon these small changes add up to make a big difference.” 

GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell agreed.

“This program is a great example of small steps our local elected leaders can take to put sustainability on the forefront and ensure their communities are doing all they can to tackle the Climate Crisis in their corner of the universe,” he said. “GASP strongly encourages communities in and around Allegheny County to consider applying for the training – especially frontline communities already dealing with major air pollution issues in their neighborhoods.”

Already all in? DEP invites applications for year four of the Local Climate Action Program, which begins later this summer. Please contact Christopher Nafe at chnafe@pa.gov or 717-783-9722 to sign up. 

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Group Against Smog and Pollution