TRENTON - Gov. Phil Murphy’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience Oct. 12 released the final version of the state’s first Climate Change Resiliency Strategy, a science-based blueprint for protecting New Jersey’s vulnerable communities, environment, economy, and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change.
According to a governor's office release, the Climate Change Resilience Strategy outlines six state priorities to guide state and local government climate action and includes over 100 recommendations to strengthen New Jersey against climate impacts, including sea-level rise, chronic flooding, rising temperatures, and more frequent and intense storm events. The plan, which was first released for public review and comment on Earth Day, will be a working document supported by a continued robust public engagement process to address the ongoing climate threats to New Jersey.
In October 2019, Murphy signed Executive Order No. 89, which appointed the state’s first chief resilience officer, established an Interagency Council on Climate Resilience, and directed the Department of Environmental Protection to develop the strategy.
“Climate change is the single greatest long-term threat facing humanity, and as Tropical Storm Ida made painfully clear in September, New Jersey’s climate change risks are already manifesting across the state,” stated Murphy. “These risks will only worsen in the years to come, with potentially devastating impacts to our communities, economy, public health, and the daily lives of all New Jerseyans. The Climate Change Resiliency Strategy outlines decisive and intentional action that will secure a more climate-resilient future for New Jersey.”
“Hurricane Ida and other storm events this summer have made it clear that climate change is affecting New Jersey now, which makes today’s release of the state’s Climate Change Resiliency Strategy all the more critical for people’s safety, health, and economic well-being,” stated Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. “I am committed to working with Gov. Murphy to put this strategy into action across state government to make New Jersey’s communities more resilient against climate change. The challenges posed by climate change are immense and, at times, overwhelming, but our Climate Change Resiliency Strategy gives us a path forward to building stronger communities and a stronger state.”
“The devastating effects of climate change demand that we act with concerted urgency to promote and secure a more climate-resilient future for New Jersey,” stated Jane Cohen, director, Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy. “The work of Interagency Council on Climate Resilience highlights the complexity of the climate challenges ahead of us and the necessity of working collaboratively to coordinate the state’s response to climate change. By developing the strategy through the council, we are laying the groundwork to protect New Jersey’s people, economy, and infrastructure through its resilience work for years to come.”
“The Murphy administration recognizes that climate change is the single-greatest, long-term threat to the people, communities and economy of New Jersey,” stated Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “In developing this inaugural edition of Statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy, the Interagency Council on Climate Resilience has created the blueprint that will guide the state’s efforts to make our communities, infrastructure and economy more resilient to the adverse impacts of climate change.”
“The comprehensive Climate Change Resilience Strategy, which relies on the best available science, the expertise and experience of the Climate Change Interagency Council members, and public comment, details actions for adapting to climate change in New Jersey,” stated David Rosenblatt, chief resilience officer and the DEP’s assistant commissioner for Climate and Flood Resilience. “We look forward to our continued engagement with state and local governmental agencies, universities, and the public to further develop and implement these actions."
The statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy’s six priorities are the following:
1. Build Resilient and Healthy Communities
2. Strengthen the Resilience of New Jersey’s Ecosystems
3. Promote Coordinated Governance
4. Invest in Information and Increase Public Understanding
5. Expand Resilience Funding and Financing
6. Coastal Resilience Plan
The strategy was developed over the last two years by Murphy’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience, which is comprised of 17 state agencies and charged with developing short-and long-term action plans to promote the mitigation, adaptation, and resilience of New Jersey against climate change. In addition to the strategy document, the Murphy administration has also developed a suite of other reports about responding to the effects of global warming and climate change, including the Energy Master Plan, Scientific Report on Climate Change and Global Warming Response Act 80X50 Report.
“Climate change has far-reaching impacts and often tragically hits the most vulnerable residents the hardest, including lower-income families, older adults, those with pre-existing health conditions and individuals with disabilities,” stated New Jersey Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “With this plan, we are working toward more resilient communities and a stronger and safer New Jersey for everyone, no matter their circumstance.”
“We cannot achieve environmental justice in New Jersey unless we confront the real and growing threat of climate change,” stated Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck. “The Climate Change Resilience Strategy is a landmark document that prepares New Jersey and its residents for a changing climate, and the Attorney General’s Office stands ready to support Gov. Murphy and the rest of the administration in carrying out this plan.”
“NJOEM remains committed to working with our local, county and state partners to address the impacts of climate change in our communities. We will continue increasing our capacity to plan for, respond to, and, ultimately, mitigate the impacts of a worsening climate,” stated Col. Patrick Callahan. “As New Jersey rebuilds and recovers to become more resilient, we continue leveraging partnerships to achieve our goals and integrate climate change adaptation strategies into how we respond to natural hazards that leave us less vulnerable to future climate extremes.”
“Recent storms that impacted our state demonstrate the significant threat climate change poses, specifically to the State of New Jersey,” stated New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride. “Under Gov. Murphy’s leadership, the administration has developed a comprehensive strategy to protect our communities, businesses, infrastructure and the environment from the harmful effects of climate change. We look forward to continuing to advance this strategy to improve our resiliency and better protect our state.”
“Climate change is an ever-present and growing threat to our state and our transit system,” stated New Jersey Transit President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Corbett. “Gov. Murphy’s Climate Change Resiliency Strategy is essential to ensuring our infrastructure withstands the impacts of increasingly frequent and violent weather events that are a direct result of climate change.”
“With extreme weather events becoming less predictable, more intense, and threatening more extensive damage to our infrastructure, it is clear that climate change is an existential crisis,” stated Rick Cotton, executive director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “The Port Authority takes climate action very seriously, and we are committed to working with our state and local partners to reduce climate risks and protect critical transportation assets across the region. We are completely supportive of the initiatives laid out in the State of New Jersey’s Climate Change Resiliency Strategy.”
“The BPU commends Gov. Murphy and applauds our sister agencies on the completion of the Climate Change Resiliency Strategy designed to address the effects of climate change on our state,” said Joseph L. Fiordaliso, president, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “Hurricane Ida illustrated that while there has been great progress in strengthening the state infrastructure, more work remains to be done. The strategy provides a blueprint to continue our work to create healthier communities for generations to come.”
“The severe weather we have experienced recently demonstrates how devasting the effect of climate change can be on our transportation network throughout New Jersey,” stated New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “NJDOT is committed to continued collaboration with our partner agencies to address these impacts through the development and application of environmentally beneficial approaches to keeping our transportation system efficient and in a state of good repair.”
“Agriculture and farmland play a vital role in our state’s climate change resiliency strategy, including implementation of on-farm practices that lead to more efficient use of water and protection of the soil on our farms and privately held woodlands,” stated New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.
“Treasury is proud to partner with our fellow agencies in this endeavor, and we strongly support the belief that the physical, environmental and economic health of our state are intrinsically connected,” stated State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “We look forward to our continued collaboration as members of Gov. Murphy’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience to support the Climate Change Resiliency Strategy and work to build a stronger, more resilient New Jersey.”
“As the first public transportation agency in the country to embrace the Paris Climate Accords, the Port Authority is fully committed to the long-term resilience of our region in the face of climate change,” stated Kevin O’Toole, chairman, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “The increase in the frequency and intensity of storms and flooding is a threat to the lives and livelihoods of the millions of people who reside in the Port District. We applaud the State of New Jersey for the forward-looking strategies outlined in the Climate Change Resiliency Strategy, which will complement many of the resiliency efforts the Port Authority is already engaged in to mitigate threats to the region’s infrastructure and economy at large.”
“Recent extreme weather from tornadoes, hurricanes and floods reminds us how urgent it is to implement the strategies in this report,” stated New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Climate change exacerbates existing health disparities in our most vulnerable communities, so our solutions must be applied with an equity lens.”
“Our ability as a state to anticipate and plan for the impacts of climate change is critical to ensuring protection of many vital resources, including drinking water,”stated Highlands Council Executive Director Lisa Plevin.“The New Jersey Highlands region is the source of drinking water for about 70S% of the state’s residents, so incorporating strategies that address inland impacts is essential to a comprehensive Climate Change Resiliency Strategy. The Highlands Council is already moving forward with efforts to support local governments in the Highlands region as they plan for this important challenge.”
“As we’ve witnessed in the last few months, the worldwide effects of climate change have a direct – and localized - impact on the economic strength of our state,” stated NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “By working with our partners in the public and private sectors to implement the steps outlined in the governor’s Climate Change Resilience Strategy, we can help mitigate the environmental harm created by global warming while simultaneously creating new jobs within the clean energy and related sectors.”
To view the statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy, visit www.nj.gov/dep/climatechange/resilience-strategy.html.