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New Jersey’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience today released the draft Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan for public review and feedback.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 22, 2024


Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795

Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795

Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795

NEW JERSEY INTERAGENCY COUNCIL ON CLIMATE RESILIENCE RELEASES DRAFT EXTREME HEAT RESILIENCE ACTION PLAN, LAUNCHES UPDATED HEAT HUB NJ


PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT ON PLAN DIRECTING STATE AGENCY ACTIONS TO MITIGATE IMPACTS OF EXTREME HEAT IN NEW JERSEY


(24/P13) TRENTON – To kick off the Murphy Administration’s celebration of Earth Week, New Jersey’s Interagency Council on Climate Resilience today released the draft Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan for public review and feedback.


The Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan – only the third of its kind in the country – will direct efforts across state government to mitigate the effects of extreme heat, one of the deadliest climate-related hazards facing New Jerseyans. One of the key actions in the plan is the launch of an enhanced iteration of Heat Hub NJ user-friendly online resource to help the public better understand and become more resilient to the impacts of extreme heat in New Jersey.


NJ Earth week

“No state is immune to the impacts of extreme heat, particularly New Jersey, which is warming at a rate faster than the global average as well as the rest of the Northeast,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This not only underscores the need for a resilience strategy to combat extreme heat, but it also hastens our resolve to protect the residents of the Garden State and equip them with the knowledge they need to protect their families.”


“As extreme heat events become more frequent and intense, we will see impacts to public health, our infrastructure, and our ecosystems,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “The breadth of actions in the Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan and the diversity of agencies involved in its development demonstrate that New Jersey stands ready to meet that challenge and build a resilient future for all communities. The release of the plan and Heat Hub NJ to kick off Earth Week underscores the priority the Administration places on doing everything we can to address the profound impacts of extreme heat on the public.”


“Climate change and its impact on the environment is happening now in New Jersey. Ensuring a healthy environment contributes directly to healthy bodies and minds,” said Health Commissioner Kaitlan Baston, M.D. “Warming temperatures have significant effects on our bodies. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can result in heat exhaustion, or, in severe cases, heat stroke. These risks can magnify existing health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma.”


“As New Jersey sees increasing frequency of extreme heat events, awareness of the physical and mental impacts of heat – and how to help – becomes more and more important,” said Sarah Adelman, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. “Extreme heat can worsen mental health conditions and interfere with the effectiveness of some medications. With every heat event climate anxiety increases, especially among young people. We appreciate DEP’s efforts to centralize expertise from across the State to help everyone learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

“The release of the Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan is a bold step toward preparing New Jersey communities for the impacts of extreme heat, both today and in the years to come,” said Nick Angarone, New Jersey’s Chief Resilience Officer. “I am grateful for the commitment and hard work by all of the agencies on the Interagency Council on Climate Resilience as we developed this plan over the last year, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration as we move these measures into action.”


Public feedback sought

The Interagency Council on Climate Change, unique in its collaborative structure, is tasked with formulating short- and long-term action plans that will increase the resilience of New Jersey's economy, communities, infrastructure, and natural resources to climate change.

Recognizing the critical importance of engaging stakeholders and residents, the council invites public feedback and suggestions regarding the actions outlined in the Draft Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan through Monday, May 20.


Additionally, the Interagency Council is hosting two virtual public webinars to showcase the draft Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan on Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, May 7.

To access and provide feedback on the plan and to register for the webinars, please visit https://dep.nj.gov/climatechange/resilience/resilience-action-plans/. Feedback can be submitted via the comment form.


Climate Change and its Impacts

Man in orange shirt covered in sweat

Efforts to protect New Jerseyans from the impacts of climate change is a priority of the Murphy Administration. In accordance with the statewide policy directive laid out in Executive Order 89, New Jersey has taken a number of actions to enhance decision-making and accelerate adaptation, including developing the Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan.

With data from the New Jersey Scientific Report on Climate Change (2020) and the Human Health & Communities Addendum (2022), it is evident that New Jersey is warming at an accelerated pace compared to the Northeast region and globally, with the third-hottest summer recorded in 2022 and six of the hottest summers on record occurring in the last ten years.


While each state agency is different, extreme heat affects their ability to implement their core missions and serve their constituents. Not only does extreme heat impact the environment and human health, it can also cause damage to infrastructure such as roads, and threaten the vitality of the state’s natural resources and economy.


In a densely populated state such as New Jersey with large expanses of asphalt and concrete that have replaced forests, fields, and other open spaces, those living in more densely populated areas with less tree cover—areas known as “urban heat islands”– are considered especially vulnerable, and considerably more likely to experience the worst and longest-lasting impacts of a heat wave. Other vulnerable populations include the elderly, outdoor workers, and low-income families who cannot afford air conditioning, as well as those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with pre-existing conditions or those taking medications that affect the body’s ability to thermoregulate.


Heat Hub NJ

Originally released as a prototype in 2023, Heat Hub NJ provides the public with key information on extreme heat’s impact on daily life and the environment, its adverse effects on human health and well-being, and guidance for protecting those particularly vulnerable to its effects.


Since its initial release, member agencies of the Interagency Council and department representatives have coordinated to expand Heat Hub NJ’s resources and provide new and different ways to communicate heat messaging to New Jersey residents.


New to the Earth Day’s Heat Hub NJ release are a series of videos outlining the physical and mental impacts of extreme heat and how best to protect yourself and your community; new information on the toll extreme heat has on mental functioning and resources to address those stresses; and Chill Out NJ, an interactive mapping feature to help New Jerseyans find public places to escape the heat. Heat Hub NJ also has a new focus section on identifying and dealing with extreme heat emergencies, or heat waves, dangerously high temperatures over a period of time which are projected to increase in frequency due to climate change.


Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plan in Detail

Extreme heat poses immediate and long-term health risks, compromises air quality, strains food and water supplies, and depletes the longevity of infrastructure and the stability of habitats. State department and agency leaders have responded by developing agency-led initiatives, policies, and programs to address these challenges.


While addressing activities across the full range of the foundational policy priorities outlined in the Resilience Strategy, the draft plan heavily prioritizes building resilient and healthy communities and strengthening the resilience of New Jersey’s ecosystems.


The plan is made up of 133 actions, organized thematically into twenty focus areas and further organized to align with the priorities outlined in the foundational policy framework of New Jersey’s Climate Change Resilience Strategy. Action commitments address the activities completed, underway, or recommended in individual agencies, as well as efforts that cut across several state agencies.

Man and woman drinking from their water bottles after exercising

Priority 1: Build Resilient and Healthy Communities includes more than 80 actions organized into thirteen focus areas. A selection of agency-led extreme heat resilience efforts included in the Plan are listed below:


  • Emergency Preparedness and Response: Encourage County-Level Extreme Heat Planning Focused on the Needs of Seniors

  • Cooling Centers: Expand Network of Local Cooling Sites and Provide Support to Operators

  • Housing and Residential Cooling: Conduct Study on Air Conditioning Access in NJ

  • Urban Tree Canopy and Community Forestry: Expand Urban Community Forestry Program to Increase Tree Canopy in Urban Areas

  • Worker Safety and Health Illness Prevention: Develop Interagency Guidance & Resource Compilation for Workplace Heat Illness Prevention

  • Energy Infrastructure: Assess Grid Reliability in Extreme Heat Events

  • Transportation: Improve Bus Shelter Design

  • Urban Heat Islands: Launch an Urban Heat Island and Air Quality Project in Collaboration with Overburdened Communities


Priority 2: Strengthen the Resilience of New Jersey’s Ecosystems features an additional 20+ actions, a brief selection of which are listed below:

  • Agriculture: Promote Climate-Smart Practices

  • Harmful Algal Blooms: Respond to the Impact of Harmful Algal Blooms on Recreation


In addition to the variety of matters pertaining to the well-being of communities and natural areas, the Interagency Council has numerous efforts underway to ensure that state agencies and departments, can leverage their respective areas of authority and programmatic leadership, to collaborate and advance resilience efforts.


Priority 3: Promote Coordinated Governance


Priority 4: Invest in Information and Increase Public Understanding


Priority 5: Promote Climate-Informed Investments and Innovative Financing describe state agency actions to ensure effective coordination.

The more than 30 actions organized under these three Resilience Strategy priorities advance state agency-led efforts to identify support and resources needed for stakeholders across various levels of government to improve our collective readiness to withstand the impacts of extreme heat in New Jersey.

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