This page provides an overview of the steps Delaware is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

In September 2013, Governor Jack Markell established the Governor’s Committee on Climate and Resiliency (Executive Order 41, Preparing Delaware for Emerging Climate Impacts and Seizing Economic Opportunities from Reducing Emissions).  The Committee oversees the development of an implementation plan to continue reducing emissions. It is also charged with developing agency-specific actionable recommendations for improving Delaware’s preparedness and resilience to climate impacts on public health and safety, public infrastructure and facilities, water resources, natural ecosystems, agriculture, tourism, and other industries.

Executive Order 41 also requires that all state agencies incorporate measures for adapting to increased flooding and sea-level rise in the siting and design of state-funded projects. This requirement applies to new construction and reconstruction of substantially damaged buildings and infrastructure. The Committee must deliver both the implementation plan and agency recommendations to the Governor no later than December 31, 2014. Governor Markell also served on President Obama's State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) developed a statewide climate change vulnerability and risk assessment, which was published in March 2014. The Delaware Climate Change Impact Assessment summarizes past climate trends and future climate projections for Delaware and provides a summary of current and future impacts from changes in temperature, precipitation, and sea level on five key sectors: public health, water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems, and infrastructure. 

On March 2, 2015, Governor Jack Markell released a plan to combat climate change, calling for a 30 percent cut in carbon pollution by 2030 and outlining a framework to help the state better prepare for the future impacts of climate change. The Climate Framework for Delaware describes the actions that state agencies have already taken to reduce emissions and adapt to impacts, and outlines recommendations for future action on both fronts.

The Delaware Coastal Programs Section of DNREC is leading a multi-year Sea Level Rise Initiative to help assess and prepare for the potential impacts of sea-level rise in the state. Delaware’s Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee (SLRAC) was established by DNREC in 2010 and supports the Initiative, helping the state assess and plan for sea-level rise. The SLRAC is comprised of a representative from each cabinet-level department and representatives from municipal governments, and business and citizen advocacy organizations. The SLRAC has developed both an assessment of the state's vulnerability to future sea-level rise and a series of recommendations for policy improvements and best management practices. Preparing for Tomorrow's High Tide: Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment for the State of Delaware, released in July 2012, represents the first phase of SLRAC's work, intended to be used as a starting point for more detailed localized or resource-based assessments and as a basis for prioritizing state responses to sea-level rise. The report contains 55 recommendations for adapting to sea-level rise, targeting 16 vulnerable resources identified as of high or moderate concern in the state’s 2012 Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment.

At the local level, the municipalities of Lewes, New Castle, and Bowers Beach have developed adaptation plans. The Delaware Coastal Program partnered with the City of New Castle and the Town of Bowers Beach to help improve local preparedness for the impacts of coastal storms, climate change, and sea-level rise. The projects include the development of coastal resiliency plans that outline the specific vulnerabilities of the community and coastal adaptation strategies. The City of Lewes, Delaware, is also involved in a pilot project to incorporate climate change into the local hazard mitigation plan.

Delaware's statewide adaptation planning is in progress. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed by the state and localities to help communities prepare for climate change, are highlighted below.

(Research last updated March 9, 2015.)

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress of states in implementing their adaptation plans, is supported by the MacArthur Foundation. 



State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
Climate Framework for Delaware Law and Governance March 2, 2015
DE EO 41: Preparing Delaware for Emerging Climate Impacts and Seizing Economic Opportunities from Reducing Emissions Law and Governance September 12, 2013

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
Climate Action in Delaware: 2016 Progress Report Coastal, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Public health, Water resources January 13, 2017
Delaware Wildlife Action Plan 2015-2025 Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Land management and conservation 2015
Preparing for Tomorrow's High Tide: Final Recommendations for Preparing Delaware for Sea Level Rise Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land use and built environment August 15, 2013

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
The City of Lewes, Delaware Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Action Plan June 2011
The City of Lewes, Delaware Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Action Plan - Transportation Components June 2011
Town of Bowers Beach, Delaware Coastal Resiliency Planning 2009

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
Avoiding and Minimizing Risk of Flood Damage to State Assets: A Guide for Delaware State Agencies Solutions March 2016
Assessing the Legal Toolbox for Sea Level Rise Adaptation in Delaware: Options and Challenges for Regulators, Policymakers, Property Owners, and the Public Law and Governance May 21, 2014
Delaware Climate Change Impact Assessment Assessments March 2014
Preparing for Tomorrow's High Tide: Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment for the State of Delaware Assessments July 2012
Delaware Sea Level Rise Initiative Solutions September 2011
Recommended Sea Level Rise Scenarios for Delaware Planning December 2009

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