Midstate county seeks input on climate action plan

  • Rachel McDevitt

A fast-growing midstate county is asking for public feedback on its plan to combat the impacts of climate change.

Cumberland County is adding population at one of the quickest rates in the commonwealth. It also serves as a hub for national shipping networks.

Emissions there are expected to grow nearly 14 percent by 2050 if no action is taken.

A greenhouse gas inventory estimated the county’s gross emissions in 2018 to be 2.71 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e), or 10.8 MTCO2e per resident. Those are partially offset by carbon dioxide stored in trees.

The climate action plan aims to lower emissions related to transportation, waste disposal, energy production and use, and agriculture and other land use.

It outlines steps that county government can take, such as expanding public transit, as well as voluntary efforts for people and businesses, like planting trees and weatherizing buildings.

The sectors responsible for the most emissions in the county are transportation at 39%, residential energy at 22%, commercial energy at 15% and agriculture at 11%.

The county says climate change is expected to affect a range of areas, including water supplies, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, and human health.

Polling done in conjunction with the plan shows 71% of respondents in the county believe global warming is happening. More than 70% said improved air and water quality are strong motivators for taking climate action. A majority said cost is the biggest barrier to doing something about the issue.

The plan is open for review on the county’s website until Sept. 30.

Cumberland County developed the blueprint through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Local Climate Action Program. Fifty-three local governments have participated since 2019.

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