“After the final no there comes a yes and on that yes the future of the world hangs” ~Wallace Stevens
Local Impacts of Climate Change
The climate has changed in New Hampshire but people and governments around the world and here in New Hampshire are embracing solutions and reducing their carbon footprints. As we work for more clean energy, more efficiency and more effective laws to slow and eventually arrest these changes, please use this local-impacts information sheet to discuss this urgent issue with your legislators.
What follows is based on a 2014 document from The Climate Reality Project titled, “What does climate change mean for New Hampshire?,” that lists some of local impacts of climate change.
As you will see from this list, a changing climate is putting a strain on our local economy.
Temperatures in the Northeast have risen by 2° F. Winter temperatures and overnight temperatures have shown the most significant warming. The number of days with snow cover has also decreased.
If carbon pollution emissions go unchecked, average temperatures may increase in the state by more than 7° F above the long-term average by late-century. The state may experience an additional 10 or more days above 90° F by this same time frame.
Rainfall increased by nearly five inches between 1895 and 2011. Heavy downpours increased over much of the East Coast from 1958—2010, with the highest increases (74 percent) in the Northeastern U.S.
Durham’s annual precipitation has increased by nearly seven inches since the early 1900s.
Heavier precipitation events are expected to become more common by the end of the century. The wettest day annually is projected to experience a 30-percent increase in rainfall by late century. Even so, more frequent short and medium-term droughts are also expected in the 2070 to 2099 time frame.
Days with snow cover over parts of the state may decrease by up to 50 percent through mid-century and up to 60 percent by the end of the century.
Sea Level Rise
Sea-level rise along parts of the East Coast may exceed the global average—projected to range from one to four feet by 2100—by four inches. Sea levels along the state’s coast rose at a rate of 2 to 2.7 millimeters per year over the last century.
What Has New Hampshire Started Doing About It?
Emissions Reductions: 2009’s Climate Action Plan aimed at reducing emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. A 2012 progress report noted positive trends, but many challenges remain.
New Hampshire is one of nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative , a cap-and-trade system requiring power plants to either reduce their emissions or buy allowances from plants with lower emissions. By 2020, RGGI is projected to reduce annual emissions by 45 percent from 2005 levels.
New Hampshire is one of 29 states that have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandating that a percentage of the state’s electricity come from clean energy. Under this RPS, electricity providers are required to obtain 24.8 percent of their electricity sales from sources of renewable energy by 2025.
Renewable Energy: As of 2013, renewable energy represented 16 percent of New Hampshire’s net electricity generation.The majority of this energy came from either hydropower or biomass (wood). Most new renewable energy projects in the state are powered by wind or biomass.
By 2013, there was 171 MW of wind capacity in New Hampshire. These wind farms generate enough electricity to power over 50,000 average homes. Although wind provided only 1.9 percent of all electricity in 2013, the state still ranked second only to Texas in 2012 for the fastest-growing wind power capacity. If fully developed, wind could meet 60 percent of New Hampshire’s electricity needs.
Energy Efficiency: Offering financial incentives to encourage energy efficiency, In 2013, New Hampshire was ranked 20th in the nation for its energy efficiency programs. In 2005, the state passed an executive order directing state agencies (the largest energy users in the state) to reduce energy use by 10 percent.
New Hampshire also requires every state agency to implement a Clean Fleets program. This program requires that all new passenger and light-duty vehicles achieve a fuel economy of least 27.5 highway miles per gallon (mpg), and that all trucks achieve at least 20 mpg.
The Good News……!
If New Hampshire and the rest of the world take action and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions dramatically, through the promotion of clean energy, many of the worst impacts will be avoided. Clean energy and efficiency retrofits needed to address this crisis create jobs that cannot be outsourced, benefitting us all.