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State climate action plan nears end of public input stage

Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media

Delaware is one step closer to finishing a plan to guide the low-lying state through the impacts of climate change. Officials are almost finished gathering public input. 

The state Climate Action Plan will provide a roadmap to meet the challenges of climate change, says Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Sec. Shawn Garvin. 

“This plan is to really look at the various facets of climate change—the mitigation side, which is how do you reduce the greenhouse gases that are contributing to the situation we're in? And how do we address adaptation, resiliency, recognizing we have these low-lying towns, and we have coastal areas, and we have impacts on agriculture?”

Delaware is already experiencing the effects of climate change, including higher temperatures and more than a foot of sea level rise since 1900. According to DNREC, sea level rise threatens $1.5 billion in tax-assessed property value statewide.

The state is on track to just miss its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2025. Most participants in a recent climate plan workshop supported setting an ambitious goal for 2050—like several neighboring states have done.

The final public workshop to help shape Delaware’s plan was held Oct 1. Officials are still accepting written comments through Friday. 

Garvin says public feedback still needs to be compiled, but the state is working from a “great place” in terms of public knowledge of climate change.

“Delawareans recognize the impact climate change is having on our state,” Garvin said. “A super-majority of them are committed to working to take what steps are needed to to have us address those.”

Legislation will be needed to implement whatever the plan recommends. But Garvin says the plan will not prescribe specific measures. 

“The intent isn't to say this legislation will be done by this point, or we need X millions of dollars by this point to do more energy efficiency or transportation infrastructure,” he said. “It will be identifying what are the tasks that need to be done to help inform the decision makers on what makes the most sense next.”

Garvin admits part of the plan will be cataloging current climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, and building upon those. 

He gives the example of the state’s statutory Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which is set to expire in 2025. The legislation passed in 2005 required energy utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and allowed them to purchase renewable energy credits from others. Garvin says DNREC has been working with the General Assembly to craft the “next iteration” of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. 

“There's a lot of things that are already going on,” Garvin said. “We have RGGI, the [Regional] Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we have energy funds, we have our energy efficiency investment funding and weatherization, and we've been looking at transportation. And so part of it is, how do we move those things forward?”

The state Climate Action Plan is expected to be finished early next year. 


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