In 2005, Delaware officials set a 20-year-goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent below that year’s levels. Officials say if additional mitigation efforts aren’t taken, the state will fall just short of that goal.
Susan Love, Climate and Sustainability Section administrator for the state’s environmental agency, said data shows if the state maintains its current trajectory, greenhouse gas emissions will have been reduced by 25.4 percent in the past two decades. Also, she said, data indicates that without additional action, emissions will decrease until 2032, when they will begin to rise again as a result of projected population and economic growth.
However, said Love during a Climate Action Plan virtual workshop Sept. 15, if mitigation efforts increase, the reduction could be as high as 31.1 percent in 2025 and 59.7 percent in 2050. It’s important to look decades out because these efforts take a long time to be realized, she said.
A Climate Action Plan is a two-part document: strategies to address the causes of climate change and ways the state can reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and strategies to address the consequences of climate change and ways the state can deal with climate impacts already being experienced. This will be Delaware’s first plan, and the expected release date is winter 2021.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy began the process in early March with workshops across the state. In the months since those sessions, Love said, the information has been gone over and logged. She said the state also hired consultant ICF to analyze greenhouse gas in the state to help support future decisions.
Specific to greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware, the analysis said industrial processing, transportation and electric power make up more than 90 percent of all greenhouse gas pollution. Love said there are other areas where changes could be made to reduce emissions – residential, agriculture, waste – but ultimately those first three fields represent the largest opportunity for reduction.
The consultant suggested a list of 20 mitigation efforts that could be implemented, including increasing renewable energy, promoting energy efficiencies in buildings and increasing use of zero-emission vehicles.
The Sept. 15 session was the first of five virtual workshops on the Climate Action Plan. The second workshop, held Sept. 17, was a repeat of the first. The third session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, and focuses on maximizing resilience to sea level rise. The fourth is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, and will focus on maximizing resilience to increased temperatures. The workshops conclude with the topic of maximizing resilience to heavy precipitation and flooding; that session will begin at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1.
For more information on the climate action plan or to register for one of the upcoming workshops, go to declimateplan.org. For those unable to participate in the workshops, an interactive online survey will be available to provide comments and ideas on possible climate change solutions for Delaware.