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Citizens engaged in state climate planning favor ambitious emissions reduction goals, renewables

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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A public workshop on Delaware's Climate Action Plan in early March

State environmental officials took their developing plan to deal with climate change back to the public Thursday, seeking input on minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Delaware’s greenhouse gas emissions are expected to decrease slightly through 2032 as a result of current state policies and the regional shift from coal to natural gas in electricity production, according to an analysis by ICF Incorporated that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) commissioned for the climate plan. But after 2032, the state’s emissions are expected to go up again, due to projected population and economic growth.

Worldwide emissions must reach net zero by 2050 to avoid warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

Transportation and industry are the sectors that currently contribute the most to Delaware’s emissions. According to DNREC, renewable energy and electric vehicles hold the greatest potential for reducing emissions by 2050. 

DNREC Climate and Sustainability Section Administrator Susan Love said during a virtual public workshop Thursday that input about additional benefits of various reduction strategies could guide the state’s focus in the climate plan. 

“There is broad consensus that in order to avoid the most catastrophic of climate change impacts, everyone across the board must significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to nearly zero,” she said. “We know there is not one answer or one easy path to accomplish this goal.”

Love said Delaware is on track to narrowly miss meeting its 2025 emissions reduction goal of 26-28 percent from 2005 levels. 

Most participants in Thursday’s workshop said they want the state to set a 2050 emissions reduction goal of more than 80 percent from 2005 levels and to focus on transitioning to renewable energy. Other emissions reduction strategies presented during the workshop included increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, increasing fuel and roadway efficiency, diverting and reducing waste, and increasing zero-emissions vehicles. 

 

DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin underscored the importance of action.

“We’ve already seen how climate change is affecting our state,” he said. “The decade from 2010 to 2019 was Delaware’s hottest in recorded history. We also just experience Delaware’s hottest July in recorded history.”

More than a foot of sea level rise has been observed at a tide gauge in Lewes since 1900. 

Upcoming Climate Action Plan workshops will cover maximizing Delaware’s resilience to climate change impacts including sea level rise, increased temperatures, and heavy rain and flooding.

The public can access recordings of past Climate Action Plan workshops and submit feedback online at https://declimateplan.org

 

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