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NH officials share draft climate priorities that could shape investments to come

Transportation and residential and commercial buildings make up most of New Hampshire's greenhouse gas emissions, according to a review by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Transportation and residential and commercial buildings make up most of New Hampshire's greenhouse gas emissions, according to a review by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

New Hampshire’s plan to take action on climate change is getting its first update since 2009. State officials are highlighting incentives and support for electric vehicles, public transportation, energy efficiency, heat pumps and workforce development as top priorities.

The state’s Department of Environmental Services this week released a draft of issues they’ll include in the Priority Climate Action Plan, which is due to the federal government on March 1.

New Hampshire’s priorities focus on reducing emissions in transportation and residential buildings — the sources of the majority of the state’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

State officials are using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to create the plan. When it’s complete, it will allow the state to apply for more federal money to help with reducing emissions and air pollution.

The federal government is expected to prioritize projects that benefit lower-income communities and those that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Almost half of the climate-warming emissions New Hampshire puts into the atmosphere come from transportation: cars, trucks, buses, airplanes and the like. To address that, officials are hoping to incentivize residents to buy electric vehicles by reducing their upfront costs with rebates, making EV charging more accessible, and increasing access to public transportation.

The second-biggest contributor to New Hampshire’s emissions are residential buildings, which often have heating systems that run on fossil fuels.

State regulators reported that a 70% reduction in emissions from electricity generation accounted for the vast majority of emissions cuts in New Hampshire between 2005 and 2021 — but emissions from the residential and transportation sectors only fell about 13%. 

State officials hope to address residential emissions by scaling up programs that would get homes across the state weatherized — making heating and cooling systems more energy efficient or adding things like insulation to keep inclement weather outside. The state also wants to focus on helping lower-income households make repairs necessary to start the weatherization process in the first place.

The state’s draft priorities also include expanding the adoption of heat pumps, which can heat and cool homes using electricity.

Workforce development initiatives for trades that would help with making transportation and buildings more climate friendly are also included in the plan.

The state’s Priority Climate Action Plan is due on March 1, and applications for funding to implement the measures are due April 1.

A longer-term climate action plan called a Comprehensive Climate Action Plan is due in 2025, and is expected to include greenhouse gas reduction targets and strategies to achieve those goals.

The state’s 2009 climate plan was prepared by members of former Gov. John Lynch’s Climate Change Policy Task Force with input from hundreds of people over the course of about two years, according to that document.

The latest Priority Climate Action Plan, in contrast, has gone through a much quicker and smaller process. It’s being developed in response to federal — rather than state — policy. Officials have met with residents and stakeholders across the state to get input, but only had about six months to create the plan.

People can share their feedback on the draft of the climate priorities until Feb. 20. Written comments can be emailed to cprg@des.nh.gov or mailed to Kurt Yuengling at the Department of Environmental Services’ Air Resources Division, P.O. Box 95; Concord, NH 03301-0095.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.

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