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First engagement sessions for New Hampshire’s climate change plan begin

Looking southerly on Route 115 in Jefferson, New Hampshire.
Dan Tuohy
Looking southerly on Route 115 in Jefferson, New Hampshire. Dan Tuohy photo 2023 / NHPR

New Hampshire residents gathered in a virtual meeting on Wednesday night for the first in a series of community conversations about an update to the state’s plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change.

The updated climate change plan is due early next year and would allow the state to apply for its share of $4.6 billion in federal money from the Inflation Reduction Act. Granite Staters are being asked to give their input on the plan through sessions facilitated by New Hampshire Listens.

After breaking into small discussion groups, many participants focused on making sure climate solutions would be available to those who have historically faced barriers to access.

“We had a real significant overarching focus on renters and landlords – energy efficiency, getting solar available to renters, getting EV charging, etcetera,” Mike Fitzgerald, with the state’s Department of Environmental Services, said of his smaller group.

Others focused on improving recycling and waste management, implementing workforce development efforts for climate-focused jobs, and making green spaces more accessible, especially in cities.

Participant Elizabeth O’Malley said her group focused on increasing energy efficiency and prioritized phasing out all kinds of fossil fuel use.

“We felt strongly that this needs to be done through the replacement of that energy use with renewable energy, the generation, the storage, the infrastructure overall,” she said.

Mikayla Townsend, a facilitator of the meeting with New Hampshire Listens, noted examples of work already happening in Berlin to make that city more walkable and bikeable and in Manchester to improve access to green spaces. She noted her group discussed creating or expanding the state’s rail trails to create more transportation options.

In response to an NHPR question on how state regulators would use the input they’re gathering to create the climate plan, Fitzgerald said state regulators were “curious about that, too.”

“We have to take the input that we’re getting now and sort of fashion it into readily implementable projects,” he said. “We're ultimately going to end up with a plan that is intended to position New Hampshire to apply for that $4.6 billion.”

Fitzgerald noted another, more comprehensive climate plan is due a bit more than a year after the initial plan. He also said the Department would be collaborating with Gov. Chris Sununu on the plan along with other state agencies to make sure the plan is “consistent with the administration’s vision.”

Registration links for future community meetings on the climate action plan can be found here.

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