This page provides an overview of the steps Delaware is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
In September of 2013, Governor Jack Markell established the Governor’s Committee on Climate and Resiliency through Executive Order 41, Preparing Delaware for Emerging Climate Impacts and Seizing Economic Opportunities from Reducing Emissions. The committee is responsible for overseeing the development of an implementation plan for reducing emissions and improving Delaware’s preparedness and resilience to climate impacts. 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 for new construction and reconstruction of substantially damaged buildings and infrastructure.
In March 2014, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) published the Delaware Climate Change Impact Assessment. It summarizes past climate trends and future climate projections for Delaware and provides a summary of current and future impacts related to 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 the Climate Framework for Delaware (“the Framework”), a plan to combat climate change that calls for a 30 percent cut in carbon pollution by 2030 and outlines a plan to help the state better prepare for the future impacts of climate change. The Framework also describes actions that have already been taken by state agencies and outlines recommendations for future mitigation and adaptation efforts. To this end, a guide was published in 2016 that specifically focuses on reducing the risk of flooding for state agencies. The state also created several flood avoidance resources that support the guide’s implementation, such as a Flood Risk Adaptation Risk Map (FRAM) that combines current flood modeling with sea-level rise projections to visualize Delaware’s present and future vulnerability.
In December 2016, the state released Climate Action in Delaware: 2016 Progress Report highlighting the state’s progress toward mitigating and adapting to climate change, and outlining some ongoing projects and next steps for state agencies. The 2016 Progress Report provides an update on the actions and goals outlined in the Framework, and includes an overview of local government adaptation actions. The progress report also contains a comprehensive appendix detailing the progress of each of the Framework’s adaptation recommendations and how the state is transitioning from planning to implementation.
In June 2017, Delaware Governor John Carney announced that Delaware would join as a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance pledging commitment to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In November 2021, Delaware released a new statewide Climate Action Plan, an update to the Framework. Delaware created the plan to strategically address future climate change impacts in the state. The plan outlines suggestions for both climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. The plan was prepared by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
State Planning for Sea-Level Rise
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 within the state. Delaware’s Sea-Level Rise Advisory Committee (SLRAC) was established in 2010 to help the state assess and plan for sea-level rise. SLRAC includes representatives from state agencies, municipal governments, businesses, and citizen advocacy organizations. 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, was produced during the first phase of SLRAC's work. It is intended to serve as a starting point for future assessments that are more detailed or resource-based as well as help the state prioritize its adaptation efforts. In September 2013, SLRAC released Preparing for Tomorrow’s Hide Tide: Recommendations for Adapting to Sea-Level Rise in Delaware as a companion to the vulnerability assessment that proposed 55 actions the state could consider to adapt to sea-level rise that target the 16 vulnerable resources of high or moderate concern noted in the 2012 vulnerability assessment. In 2017, the committee released a new technical report, Recommendations of Sea-Level Rise Planning Scenarios for Delaware, which includes recommendations regarding which sea-level-rise projections the state should use when developing long-term plans for infrastructure, facilities, land use, and capital spending, as required by Executive Order 41.
Because Delaware only released its new Climate Action Plan in November 2021, these pages highlight the progress the state to is making in implementing the adaptation actions and goals set forth in the 2015 Framework.
Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Delaware prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: November 23, 2021).
|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|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Delaware’s Climate Action Plan||Coastal, Insurance, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Rural, Frontline Communities||November 4, 2021|
|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||September 2013|
|Sea-Level Rise: A Transportation Vulnerability Assessment of the Wilmington, Delaware Region||July 2011|
|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|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Delaware Climate-Ready Workforce Pilot Project||Solutions||June 30, 2017|
|Delaware Database for Funding Resilient Communities||Funding||May 26, 2016|
|Avoiding and Minimizing Risk of Flood Damage to State Assets: A Guide for Delaware State Agencies||Solutions||March 2016|
|Green Infrastructure Primer: A Delaware Guide to Using Natural Systems in Urban, Rural, and Coastal Settings||Solutions||January 2016|
|Delaware Coastal Management Assistance Program||Funding||September 16, 2015|
|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|
|Delaware Estuary Living Shoreline Initiative||Solutions|
|Delaware 2017 Coastal Inundation Maps||Data and tools||2017|
|Recommended Sea Level Rise Scenarios for Delaware||Planning||December 2009|