Earth Day 2022 – The Time for Bold Action on Climate Change

By Governor John Carney and Secretary Shawn M. Garvin

As we think about how to rebuild our economy, we also need to ensure it’s sustainable. Not just in times of a public health crisis, but sustainable against the impacts of climate change.

There is no better time than Earth Day to come together to work to curb the impacts of climate change in Delaware.

We want Delaware to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family. That’s why the state launched Delaware’s Climate Action Plan.

We are already affected by the impacts of climate change, from dangerous heat and extreme weather, to accelerated sea level rise. The greatest threats from climate change differ depending on where you are in Delaware:

  • Communities from Claymont to Fenwick Island are already experiencing sea level rise.
  • Our farming community is already threatened by saltwater intrusion, changing growing seasons and losses due to extreme weather events.
  • Residents in urban areas are seeing their infrastructure overwhelmed more often by flooding, affecting their homes, work and livelihoods.
  • Higher temperatures mean higher costs to cool homes and businesses for all Delawareans.

The combined impacts threaten the health and well-being of Delawareans, especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, released late last year, identifies practical and common-sense strategies we can take to maximize our state’s resilience to climate change impacts and minimize planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. For example:

  • Transitioning to clean energy sources in our homes and businesses.
  • Transitioning to clean vehicles in our transportation system.
  • Capitalizing on our natural and working lands, which includes planting trees to improve air and water quality, preserve soil and support wildlife. We’re doing this now, in fact, through the Tree for Every Delawarean Initiative (TEDI), with a goal of planting at least a million trees to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Partner organizations and the public are invited to record their tree plantings at to help us count the trees planted throughout the state.

This work isn’t Delaware’s first step toward curbing climate change. The Climate Action Plan builds off previous and current state-led initiatives. While the state was slowing the spread of COVID-19, Delaware also took big steps to prepare our state for climate change to protect the well-being of our residents and future-generations:

  • Last month, we announced that Delaware will join 13 other states in adopting California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations, providing drivers seeking to buy an electric vehicle with more choices at Delaware dealerships. By adopting the ZEV regulations, Delaware drivers won’t have to go out of state to find an electric vehicle to purchase, and our dealerships will benefit by keeping in-state customers in Delaware.
  • In 2021, we increased our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, requiring Delaware’s utilities to get a portion of their energy from renewables, including wind and solar. The goal is to achieve 40% renewable energy sources by 2035.
  • Also in 2021, we announced that we are expanding our electric vehicle fast-charging network using money from Delaware’s share of the Environmental Mitigation Trust funding grants. This investment – and other steps we take as a state – will address air pollution and protect the 75,000 adults and 15,000 children living with asthma in Delaware. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will significantly build on state-level efforts.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make huge steps on curbing climate change while accelerating our economy through the Federal investments of the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We must continue to build on the work we’ve done in the last year and lift up climate work in every sector of our economy.

Taking actions highlighted in the plan to reduce emissions will allow Delaware to meet or exceed our 2025 reduction target of at least 26% from 2005 levels, setting us on a path to make further emissions reductions in the years ahead.

We can and should embrace the change to a cleaner energy future. Investments in renewable sources will create good new jobs for Delaware families and position our state as a leader on environmental protection.

Implementing resilience strategies now can ensure that state funding mechanisms, regulations, management plans and state facilities are prepared to meet the changing and challenging effects of global climate change.

How we implement climate action is just as critical as what we implement. We need to ensure that all Delawareans have a seat at the table and that their concerns are heard. Every neighborhood, every town in Delaware is vulnerable to climate change. But we know that the impacts are not felt equally by all communities and populations.

For climate action to benefit all Delawareans, the needs of residents – especially those who may be disproportionally impacted by climate change – must be understood and addressed through engagement and partnerships.

By putting this statewide plan into action, Delaware will play a leading role in meeting ambitious and achievable climate goals, while also creating economic opportunities and improving environmental health.

Working together, we have made progress toward our goals. And moving forward on Earth Day and beyond, working together will help us achieve those goals and set us on course for a cleaner, greener and economically sound future for generations to come.

Read more about Delaware’s Climate Action Plan:

Governor John Carney is the 74th Governor of the State of Delaware. Shawn M. Garvin is the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.