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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Survey finds a significant majority of Delawareans want actions to reduce climate change impacts

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Contact:  Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902;
Katy O’Connell, University of Delaware, Delaware Sea Grant, 302-632-7315;

Survey finds significant majority of Delawareans
want actions to reduce climate change impacts

79 percent are convinced climate change is occurring; 76 percent want actions

DOVER (February 23, 2015) – A significant majority of Delawareans are convinced that climate change and sea level rise are happening and believe that immediate actions should be taken to reduce their impacts, according to a recent survey conducted by Responsive Management, an independent public opinion firm.

 In the survey, 79 percent of respondents said they are convinced that climate change is occurring, up from 70 percent in a 2009 DNREC study. Seventy percent believe that sea level rise is a reality, compared to 63 percent in 2009. 

 In 2014, three out of four respondents (76 percent) agreed that immediate actions should be taken to reduce the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

 “Climate change affects all of us – impacting our economy, environment, public health and safety,” said Governor Jack Markell. “This survey confirms that a strong majority of Delawareans believe climate change is occurring, and we are committed to taking key actions to reduce its impact – by improving the state’s resiliency, developing strategies for adaptation and preparedness and setting goals for greenhouse gas reductions.”

 The survey revealed that 79 percent of respondents believe that climate change poses a serious threat. Those who agreed that climate change is a “very serious threat” increased considerably over the five-year period, from 38 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2014.

 When polled about whether individuals can personally take action to reduce climate change, a majority of residents, 64 percent, agreed.

"DNREC and Delaware Sea Grant have been working with citizens and community leaders throughout the state to increase their understanding of climate change and assist with on-the-ground efforts to address climate impacts," said DNREC Secretary David Small. "The survey verifies what we have found – that more Delawareans are aware and knowledgeable about climate change and the need to take action now."

 The survey asked Delawareans about specific action that could be taken to address sea level rise. Delawareans supported the following key initiatives:

·        Changing building codes and regulations to reduce risk in flood-prone areas (85 percent);

·         Avoiding building new structures in at-risk areas (77 percent);

·         Increasing funding for research (72 percent);

·         Elevating buildings in at-risk areas using private funding (71 percent);

·         Increasing spending on projects aimed at sea level resiliency (70 percent); and

·         Allowing beaches and wetlands to naturally migrate inland (64 percent).

According to Nancy Targett, director of Delaware Sea Grant and dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, fostering partnerships with the state and other agencies also aligns with UD’s mission.

“We pride ourselves on working with DNREC and other state partners to provide scientific research that can inform policy decisions and support community education and outreach,” said Targett.

“It’s great to see the way Delawareans, our academic institutions and our state agencies have come together to tackle the challenges of climate change in Delaware.”

The telephone survey polled 1,508 Delaware residents in New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties and followed a similar 2009 DNREC study that assessed Delawarean’s general knowledge of climate change and sea level rise, and their support for action. The survey was funded by Delaware Sea Grant, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For the complete results of the 2014 Delaware Residents’ Opinions on Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Survey, go to  Visit DNREC’s website for more information and the survey infographic at:

 Vol. 45, No. 40


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is the lead state agency for climate change initiatives. Its Delaware Coastal Programs Office led the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee and development of sea level rise adaptation recommendations for the state.  The DNREC Division of Energy and Climate completed the Delaware Climate Impact Assessment and is leading efforts to address Governor Markell’s Executive Order 41: Preparing Delaware for Emerging Climate Impacts, which includes setting greenhouse gas mitigation goals and adapting state policies and procedures to address climate change.

About Delaware Sea Grant
The University of Delaware was designated as the nation’s ninth Sea Grant College in 1976 to promote the wise use, conservation and management of marine and coastal resources through high-quality research, education and outreach activities that serve the public and the environment.

Administered by UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the Delaware Sea Grant college program conducts research in priority areas ranging from aquaculture to coastal hazards.

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