NEW CASTLE — Gov. John Carney released Delaware’s Climate Action Plan on Thursday, in hopes of impacting climate change for the health of the tourism and agricultural industries, as well as the well-being of state residents.
The governor released his initiative surrounded by members of his Cabinet, environmental leaders and First State legislators.
The main goals established by the proposal are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to better prepare for the impact of climate change by prioritizing clean energy and improved energy efficiency, providing support to state agencies in resilience efforts and increasing research and monitoring.
“Climate change threatens our $3.5 billion tourism industry and 44,000 jobs, our $8 billion agricultural industry, the health of our citizens and the financial well-being of our local, county and state governments,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “The strategies in the Climate Action Plan can be implemented over time, as resources, data and partnerships develop.
“Taking these actions to reduce emissions will allow Delaware to meet or exceed its 2025 reduction target and make further emissions reductions in the years ahead.”
He added that Delaware’s Climate Action Plan serves three primary purposes: to help meet current commitments, to set a course for the decades ahead and to integrate actions for both minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and maximizing resilience to climate-change impacts.
“Delaware is already feeling the effects of climate change, and many of these effects are projected to worsen over the next few decades,” Shawn M. Garvin, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said in a press release. “The Climate Action Plan provides a roadmap of strategies and actions that state agencies can take to minimize emissions and maximize resilience to climate change.”
The plan identifies five action areas to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and seven action areas for state agencies to improve resilience to climate impacts, including sea level rise, warmer temperatures and more intense and frequent storms.
The key areas to focus on for reduced greenhouse gas emissions include clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, reducing greenhouse gases that have high global warming potential, and natural and working lands.
The seven action areas for state entities to maximize resilience to climate change include updating or creating state regulations; supporting communities and stakeholders; creating management plans; updating facility designs and operations; promoting research and monitoring; engaging in outreach and education; and providing agency support.
Through Gov. Carney’s commitment to the U.S. Climate Alliance, Delaware has adopted a goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% of 2005 levels by 2025.
The plans announced Thursday are the result of a yearlong process that involved residents, businesses and organizations from across Delaware.
More than 250 people participated in an initial round of public workshops, held in each county in March 2020. A follow-up series of virtual workshops in September and October of last year attracted nearly 390 attendees across five sessions.
Online surveys — aimed at gathering input from those unable to attend the workshops — garnered more than 520 responses. Additionally, more than 50 written comments and questions on the plan were submitted.
“It is our collective responsibility to do all that we can to minimize the disastrous impact of climate change on our public’s health and economy, so that our children and future generations have access to safe water, clean air and clean energy,” Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of rising sea levels will put Delaware on a sustainable path to create an eco-friendly future that preserves the health and natural beauty of our great state.
“I want to thank DNREC, (the Delaware Department of Transportation), legislators and the many stakeholders for their leadership on this issue and for implementing the Climate Action Plan that will help ensure the welfare of our state’s environment. It is a promise for a stronger and healthier Delaware to our children.”