The Murphy Administration’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience has released a Two-Year Anniversary Accomplishments Report highlighting New Jersey state agencies’ climate resilience success stories covering a spectrum of initiatives ranging from financial and tax implications of mitigation strategies to new flood protection measures for inland communities, Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today.
The Climate Change Resilience Strategy, developed collaboratively across 17 agencies on the Interagency Council and published in October 2021, provided a policy framework to guide state government efforts to protect vulnerable communities, infrastructure, businesses and the natural environment from the impacts of climate change. The Resilience Strategy includes more than 100 recommendations across six priority areas that build a foundation for statewide resilience action.
“Our mission to address and mitigate the worsening effects of climate change on public health, our air, land and water is stronger than ever,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “When the Murphy Administration unveiled the Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy two years ago, it was with the recognition that climate change is the single greatest long-term threat to our residents, communities and economy. Our work is not done. This report shows that we are facing these challenges head on and remain committed to the people of New Jersey.”
Since the Resilience Strategy’s publication, the Interagency Council has grown to 22 executive branch agencies and departments, all of whom have been working to bring forth the Strategy’s vision for a more resilient and sustainable New Jersey. The Two-Year Anniversary Accomplishments Report showcases more than 40 regulatory and policy actions that state agencies have taken over the past two years to adapt and respond to climate change.
These wide-ranging actions underscore a broad definition of resilience that encapsulates economic, social and ecological considerations, including:
- Expanding resilience planning assistance to local governments through the DEP’s Resilient NJ program;
- Integrating climate resilience into Healthy New Jersey, the Department of Health’s long-range health improvement effort;
- Accounting for climate change in assessing the financial stability of national insurance companies through new regulations at the Department of Banking and Insurance;
- Promoting and incentivizing resilience in the state’s financial decisions, such as those around real estate development tax credit programs through the Economic Development Authority;
- Coordinating across agencies to develop the first statewide Wetland Program Plan, which directs current and future wetland protection, management and restoration efforts;
- Providing a path to affordable homeownership for disaster-impacted residents through the Department of Community Affairs Smart Move Program;
- Modernizing New Jersey’s existing flood hazard and stormwater regulations through the DEP’s adoption of the Inland Flood Protection Rule to better protect communities from worsening riverine flooding and stormwater runoff.
“The Resilience Strategy was a pivotal first step in taking a whole-of-government approach to climate resilience, but we could not—and did not—stop there,” said Nick Angarone, NJ Chief Resilience Officer and Vice-Chair of the Interagency Council on Climate Resilience. “This report demonstrates New Jersey’s continued commitment to taking effective action that makes our communities stronger and safer in the face of climate change.”
“New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters by virtue of our geography and our changing climate. Recognizing this reality and inspired by our participation on the Interagency Council, DCA has developed programs that take a proactive approach to climate resiliency,” said Department of Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Jacquelyn A. Suárez. “Our Resilient Communities Program helps local governments strengthen public infrastructure to withstand future storms and Smart Move is a creative initiative that encourages local governments to partner with developers to build resilient and affordable single-family housing in areas that have reduced flood risk. Both programs are now open to local governments impacted by Hurricane Ida. DCA cares deeply about helping communities adapt their neighborhoods and housing to climate change and we will continue to design programs with this mission in mind.”
“Climate change has proven itself to wreak havoc on our environment and our statewide economy. But, under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has taken concrete steps to combat the effects of climate change head on,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The Climate Change Resilience Strategy’s innovative approach is helping address the issue by ensuring our environment and economy are stronger and better prepared to withstand future natural disasters. The NJEDA is committed to supporting the transition to clean energy and revitalizing toxic properties, all of which will create jobs and bolster our economy for future generations.”
“Extreme weather is becoming more commonplace. In order to protect New Jersey’s infrastructure, NJDOT is building resiliency into our projects to ensure that our surface transportation system can withstand the impacts of climate change,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “Our subject matter experts are developing a Climate Hazard Tool to inform our project design process and enhance our maintenance practices to ensure climate change mitigation and resiliency techniques are built into all that we do.”
The Interagency Council is expected to release an Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan in spring 2024 furthering the state’s commitment to climate resilience. The Resilience Action Plan is similarly built on the foundations of the Resilience Strategy and offers a more detailed approach to ongoing and new state agency action around the increasingly prevalent issue of extreme heat, in line with the Resilience Strategy’s recommendations.
For more on the Interagency Council, visit dep.nj.gov/climatechange/resilience/resilience-council/