ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Thursday evening adopted a series of integrated climate and energy elements into its comprehensive plan.

According to a report presented to and voted upon by the commission members,  an element of the comprehensive plan is a summary of a subject with associated goals, policies, and implementation tools. And, these regional priorities are balanced within the existing framework of the plan.

The report's climate assessment sourced by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says that in Pennsylvania, climate change is expected to have an impact on both the environment and society and will affect water resources, aquatic ecosystems, forests, agriculture, and human health. Specific effects as per the report on the above ecologies include:

  • With regard to water resources, the state can expect to see warmer temperatures throughout the year, less winter snow, and heavier rainfall events with the worse droughts occurring between rain events.
  • Warmer air temperatures allow for increasing stream temperatures resulting in unsuitable habitats for cold water fish and therefore lost biodiversity.
  • Warmer temperatures will result in the loss of northern tree species being replaced by warmer climate trees.
  • Growth of crops requiring cool temperature like apples will decline while crops such as corn that need a warmer climate will increase.
  • Lastly, higher temperatures will increase the formation of ground level ozone and small particulates, resulting in more human respiratory problems. 
  • In summary, climate change can impact both the environment and society. However, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and actions reducing the vulnerability to change are the answer to reduce future severity.

The elements adopted by the planning commission include six climate and four energy goals:

  • In order to provide resilience to climate change, natural ecosystems have to be protected, conserved, and enhanced.
  • Public infrastructure has to be protected from the potentially harmful impacts of climate change.
  • The protection of residents, property, and critical facilities from the long-term effects of climate change.
  •  The creation of a land use pattern mitigating climate change impacts through an urban development area, mixed land uses, and land preservation for environmental and agricultural uses.
  • Provide building and site design practices to mitigate climate change impacts.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from residences, business, and government buildings

Energy goals adopted include:

  • The promotion of energy efficiency and natural resources conservation within buildings and land development.
  • Promote alternatives to traditional automobile use.
  • Support diversified energy sources.
  • Advocate increased energy conservation and efficiency awareness.

Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley remarked, "Energy diversification strengthens and promotes the Valley's economy and with more energy options that results in more business opportunities."