Human activities have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, threatening the health and wellbeing of the people of Delaware.
DNREC’s Division of Air Quality conducts an annual inventory of in-state greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The 2018 inventory, which is the latest report available, was released in September 2021 and includes emission estimates from 1990 to 2018.
According to that report, the leading sources of emissions in Delaware are the transportation, industrial and electric power sectors. The combined emissions from these three sectors have represented at least 75% of Delaware’s GHG emissions since 1990.
The inventory is a key component of the mitigation analysis performed for the development of the Delaware’s Climate Action Plan because it establishes the baseline from which greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced and reports our annual progress toward our goal. Greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 were considered as the baseline to assess reductions in Delaware. Gross GHG emissions in Delaware were estimated at 23.19 Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MmtCO2e) in 2005.
The Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act of 2023 sets our goal for the state to implement additional greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies to ensure that statewide greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 50% from the 2005 baseline by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Our most recent greenhouse gas inventory, completed in 2018, reports greenhouse gas emissions to be at 16.89 MmtCO2e, putting Delaware at a 27% reduction from 2005 levels in 2018.
To support the development of the statewide Climate Action Plan and the development of greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, Delaware contracted with ICF, a consulting firm with extensive experience in technical analysis, to develop a Modeled Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report.
While the greenhouse gas inventory prepared by the Division of Air Quality looks at current emissions in Delaware, the Modeled Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report looks at the trajectory of future emissions, and how our actions can change the course of that trajectory.
To accomplish this, the report uses a business as usual (BAU) scenario, a forecast of future GHG emissions where no further actions are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware. Then, using this BAU scenario as a baseline, ICF calculated the amount of short-term, mid-term and long-term emissions reductions from a set of feasible mitigation strategies that Delaware could achieve.
The analysis showed that in the long term, decarbonizing the electric grid has the greatest potential to reduce emissions, and has additional positive effects in other sectors like transportation and buildings. In the short term, energy efficiency measures are an effective low-cost strategy to reduce emissions.