Present-day New Jersey was previously inhabited by the Lenni Lenape people, who were displaced in the 1700s during colonization. The state is now home to 8.9 million people and spans over 7 thousand square miles. New Jersey is famous for its Jersey Shore — 130 miles of famously beautiful coastline — that attracts about 50 million tourists.
Coastal flooding poses an immediate threat to the lives and homes of many residents, as well as to the state’s economy. New Jersey has the fourth-largest population at risk of coastal flooding with 352 thousand people currently at risk of coastal flooding. That number is expected to more than double by 2050. Warmer water causes oceans to expand and sea levels to rise. It also causes more intense and frequent storms, like hurricanes. With flooding comes erosion causing the land to sink into the sea. A 100 year flood in Atlantic City is expected to be 20x more likely in 2050 than it is today. At this flood level, $75 billion worth of property and 750 hazardous waste sites in the state are at risk.
As wetlands and tidal marshes are lost to sea level rise, New Jersey will face the collapse of its coastal ecosystems as populations of crustaceans, fish, and birds face declines. Some of these creatures depend on the marshes for food, shelter, and protection from prey, while still others feed on the species that inhabit them. Additionally, rising sea levels will bring salt water farther inland ultimately intruding into the ground water. The soil may become too salty for the trees and crops that currently grow in low-lying areas.
Almost all electricity in New Jersey comes from natural gas or nuclear power. In 2018, these resources provided 94% of the state’s net electricity generation. Natural gas surpassed nuclear power for the first time in 2015, and now accounts for slightly more than half of the state’s generated electricity. The share of New Jersey’s electricity generated by coal has dropped from 10% in 2010 to 2% in 2018. Renewable energy accounts for about 5% of New Jersey’s electricity, and about 75% of that renewable energy comes from solar.
New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard was updated in 2018, requiring renewables to account for 21% of the state’s electricity by 2021, 35% by 2025, and 50% by 2050. In 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy established a state-wide Climate and Flood Resilience Program and appointed a Chief Resilience Officer. Governor Murphy also established the Interagency Council on Climate Resilience, which is comprised of 16 agencies tasked with developing short-term and long-term action plans to promote the mitigation of climate change’s consequences and adaptation and resilience of New Jersey to climate-related challenges. New Jersey is the only state in the US to require climate change to be part of its K-12 education curriculum.
New Jersey is one of twenty five states committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.