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New Jersey Gets a D+ on New Climate Preparedness Report Card

November 19th, 2015 by

Mantoloking SandyA new report card, States at Risk, that grades each of the 50 states on how prepared they are for future severe weather and climate change, gives New Jersey a D+, and faults it particularly for the absence of future-oriented plans to address flooding and extreme heat.

By contrast, all of New Jersey’s neighboring states received a B+ (Delaware) or better; New York and Pennsylvania each received an A. All Northeastern coastal states except Maine received higher grades than New Jersey.

New Jersey escaped a lower grade because, as the report card says, it has already taken action to mitigate some current risks. But the researchers behind the report card emphasize that, despite New Jersey being found at enhanced risk for extreme heat, inland flooding and coastal flooding, the state has taken no steps toward development and implementation of a statewide climate adaptation plan.

The report card also faults New Jersey for its lack of action in reaching out to its residents to educate them about climate risks, and its dearth of policies or guidelines to help local communities take actions to make themselves more resilient.

New Jersey Future’s new report on its local Sandy recovery planning work highlights some of the same areas where the state could play a greater leadership role in fostering resilience and preparedness. Among the report’s recommendations: The state should adopt official projections for sea-level rise; it should allocate more resources to forward-looking municipal planning; it should require the integration of state, county and local-level hazard-mitigation planning; and it should revise state land-use laws and incentives so that development is shifted away from areas at greatest risk. (The full New Jersey Future report is available here.)

The States at Risk report card was prepared by the not-for-profit Climate Central and international technology consulting firm ICF. It graded each state on its policies and actions in five critical areas of risk: extreme heat, drought, wildfire, inland flooding and coastal flooding. Risk areas that weren’t relevant to a state were not included in its grade; New Jersey was not graded on either drought or wildfire risk. The grades were assigned relative to other states, and relative to the magnitude of the risks themselves.

A downloadable national summary and a summary for each state is available on the States at Risk website.

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