Framework recommendations available for public comment through May 30
Delaware City, DE – At the American Birding Association Headquarters in Delaware City today, Governor Jack Markell highlighted Delaware’s historic success in preparing the state for emerging climate impacts and announced a new Climate Framework for Delaware. The Framework summarizes work completed under Executive Order 41 in addressing climate impacts and includes recommendations that outline Delaware’s future direction for climate action.
Governor Markell was joined by DNREC Secretary David Small, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, University of Delaware Dean of the College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment Dr. Nancy Targett, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, Delaware Director of The Nature Conservancy Richie Jones, Mayor of the City of Lewes Ted Becker and other partners to underscore the causes and consequences of climate change and the work underway to reduce climate impacts.
“Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge we face. By taking strategic actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare Delaware to be more resilient, we are ensuring public safety, improving public health, supporting new jobs, growing the economy and conserving our natural resources,” said Governor Markell. “I want to thank the Cabinet Committee on Climate and Resiliency and the technical workgroups for their diligence in preparing the Climate Framework. Our efforts to address climate change not only impact Delawareans today, but will have lasting benefits for our quality of life and the lives of our children and grandchildren.”
In September 2013, Governor Markell signed Executive Order 41 that created the Cabinet Committee on Climate and Resiliency (CCoCAR) comprised of leadership from 11 state agencies and departments. EO 41 tasked the committee with addressing the causes and consequences of climate change by developing actionable recommendations that:
• reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change;
• increase resilience to climate impacts; and
• avoid and minimize flood risks due to sea level rise.
The Climate Framework was developed using the best available science, including Delaware’s 2014 Climate Change Impact Assessment and the Delaware Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment. The Framework summarizes the work completed under EO 41 and includes recommendations from three technical workgroups – Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, Climate Change Adaptation and Flood Avoidance. With today’s release of the Framework, next steps will be gathering feedback on the recommendations, including a public comment period through May 30 and an engagement workshop scheduled for next month.
“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Markell, Delaware has made tremendous strides in transitioning to a clean energy economy and a sustainable natural and built environment,” said David Small, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Chair of CCoCAR. “The Climate Framework for Delaware provides a path forward based on sound science that will ensure Delaware is resilient to the changes we are already experiencing, prepare us for future climate impacts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.”
Today’s event drew attention to six years of action by Delaware’s leadership in responsibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the state’s resilience and addressing statewide flooding caused by sea level rise. In his remarks, Gov. Markell highlighted Delaware’s significant progress in working across many sectors to reduce emissions through investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, implementing transportation policy and enhancements. As a result, Delaware has decreased emissions by a greater percentage than any other state in the nation – about 25% from 2008 to 2011 – and increased deployment of solar technology from 2 megawatts in 2008 to 60 MW today.
In addition, Gov. Markell outlined Delaware’s extensive progress in increasing resilience and preparing for climate impacts through a range of projects, activities and policies including protection of wetlands and shorelines, developing more protective standards for flood plain management and restoring coastal impoundments and dikes along the Delaware River and Bay.
Climate change is affecting Delaware now, with increasing temperatures and rainfall, increased flooding from extreme precipitation and rising sea levels. These changes are expected to continue and be more serious in the future. Delaware has the lowest average land elevation in the United States and a significant percentage of the population living along 381 miles of shoreline vulnerable to coastal erosion, storm surge, flooding, saltwater intrusion and tidal wetland losses, all of which will be exacerbated by sea level rise. Rising temperatures and particularly extreme heat events increase the risk of serious illness, especially for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Temperature and rainfall extremes pose serious challenges for the state’s agriculture and tourism economies, as well as imposing increasing costs for maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure.
“As stewards of Delaware’s transportation infrastructure, we must be planning for the reality that the global climate is changing, that it will have local consequences and that it will require action on our part to protect the state’s transportation system,” said DelDOT Secretary Cohan. “And, I believe that the Climate Framework represents constructive leadership for the actions we must take.”
“The primary challenge in potential climate change impacts on agriculture is adapting the genetic base of crops to perform in warmer and perhaps drier climate regimes, modifying production practices for livestock to fit in new climate regimes, and recognizing that irrigation resources may become even more critical to profitable food production systems,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “By identifying the potential range of climate change, the science behind agriculture can work with the agricultural community to cope with that change.”
“By leveraging our combined expertise, resources and efforts, we have made great progress in preparing for and responding to climate change,” said Dr. Nancy Targett, Dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and Director of Delaware Sea Grant. “Data from recent surveys tell us that Delawareans are concerned and want action. If we continue the momentum of our combined efforts, use the Governor’s Climate Framework to steer our efforts, and base our decisions on innovative research, Delaware will be poised to make its communities, businesses, and natural resources more resilient to climate impacts.”
The Climate Framework includes recommendations from the three technical workgroups:
• Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Workgroup: Recommended the state adopt a target of 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the 2008 baseline by 2030.
• Climate Change Adaptation Workgroup: Proposed more than 150 recommendations for a wide range of actions that address public health and safety needs, impacts to facilities and infrastructure and capacity to deliver services to constituents in Delaware. Adaptation recommendations are actions that state agencies can take within their departments and with assisting businesses and residents to adapt and prepare for more extreme storms and increasing temperatures and precipitation variations expected over the next several decades.
• Flood Avoidance Workgroup: Developing technical guidance and tools for use by state agencies for the siting and design of structures and infrastructure, with an emphasis on avoiding current and future flood risk. These tools include a Flood Risk Adaptation Map that depicts flood exposure from a combination of sea level rise and coastal storms. In addition, the workgroup identified existing state programs, policies and tools that will help ensure compliance with guidelines.
“As a State Director for The Nature Conservancy, I am exposed to the panoply of responses various states and countries are mounting in response to a changing climate,” said Richie Jones, Delaware State Director for TNC. “The multi-pronged approach outlined in Governor Markell’s Climate Framework – reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the First State while simultaneously strengthening the ability of our natural systems to buffer against rising seas, coastal storms and flooding – is among the most progressive and well-conceived I have seen. We commend the Governor and DNREC for taking a leadership role on this defining issue and pledge our support in advancing the Framework as we move into an ever uncertain future.”
“Lewes’ first core value recognizes this community’s unique relationship with the sea. That historic connection has helped to foster the realization that we must make adaptations to many aspects of climate change and hazard mitigation, as they impact Lewes. As a result, not only have we made changes to our city code and regulations, but we have also undertaken an ongoing program to educate and engage our residents as we prepare for the future,” said Mayor Ted Becker of the City of Lewes.
The Framework is posted online for public comments until May 30, 2015 at www.de.gov/climateframework. In addition, an engagement workshop for local governments, stakeholder organizations and the public will be held next month in Dover. The workshop will include an overview of the Framework and the activities completed by each Workgroup, followed by a breakout session to gather public feedback on adaptation recommendations. For more information on climate change visit http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/energy/Pages/Climate.aspx and sea level rise, visit www.de.gov/sealevelrise.
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