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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Climate Change : What does climate change mean for Delaware?

Climate Change


Climate change and Delaware

The evidence is overwhelming—the Earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activities that are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

The burning of fossil fuels in the energy and transportation sectors, combined with unwise land-use practices like deforestation, have led to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations—most notably carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. 


In turn, the increased concentration of these gases over the past 250 years has caused Earth’s average temperatures to rise dramatically, especially over the past few decades.


Global climate change is a major concern because it poses serious risks to human health and it will continue to negatively affect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, especially as temperatures are projected to rise through the 21st Century. Delaware is not immune to its effects. In fact, there are strong indications that climate change is occurring in Delaware and that it is affecting the state's natural resources.


Delaware has a rich coastal environment that includes tidal flats, salt marshes, and beaches, all of which serve important ecological, recreational, and economic functions. These resources all are at substantial risk not only from continued climate change, but also from other problems such as pollution, overdevelopment, and wetlands loss, among other things.


Click on the links below to learn more about the current and potential future climate change impacts in Delaware:


Public health

Coastal impacts

Water resources




Also, recognizing that continued climate change is a reality and a signficant problem that must be addressed at all levels of government, Delaware is pursuing a number of climate change initiatives and policies, including:

The Delaware Estuary is one of the largest tidal estuaries in the
world, but continued climate change could threaten its diverse
wildlife and marine life, along with surrounding forest and wetlands habitat.

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
    • Regulation 1147 establishes Delaware's portion of a multi-state carbon dioxide (CO2) cap-and trade program. For more information on Delaware’s implementation of the RGGI program click here.
    • Senate Concurrent Resolution 28. On June 30, 2007, the Delaware General Assembly passed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 28. The resolution called on the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to convene a workgroup to consider the sale of CO2 allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and the use of potential revenue stemming from such allowance sales.

  • Delaware Climate Change Action Plan.The Delaware Climate Change Action Plan was prepared in 2000 by the University of Delaware’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) for the Delaware Climate Change Consortium, a body of representatives from government, business, labor, environmental and community-based organizations. The project's primary goals were: 1) to identify cost-effective opportunities for reducing Delaware’s greenhouse gas emissions; 2) to raise the awareness of climate change; and 3) to create an action plan with practical, analytically-based strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project was sponsored by the Delaware State Energy Office and the U.S. EPA’s State and Local Climate Change Program.

  • The Climate Registry (TCR)

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