Our Turn: The very real impact of climate change in New Hampshire

Published: 7/27/2017 12:09:56 AM

When it comes to combating climate change, New Hampshire’s Legislature should consider any option that will preserve our environment without hampering economic growth. That’s why a bill like Senate Bill 123, which would have established a commission to study a carbon reduction investment program, is the best path forward for New Hampshire.

New Hampshire has been a leader on combating the effects of climate change for many years. The state has been actively reducing emissions through its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. As a whole, the nine participatory states have reduced emissions by 45 percent since 2005, and have grown the region’s GDP by 8 percent.

The program has also created significant cost savings. Investments in RGGI have led to more than $4 billion in lifetime energy bill savings, which has benefited more than 21,000 businesses in the region. However, RGGI alone will not save us from the devastating effects of climate change.

Many of us have already begun to experience such effects.

Unseasonable temperatures, coastal flooding and extreme storms impact our state’s economy every day.

As an international company based in New Hampshire, Badger sources organic ingredients from all over the world and is largely dependent on a global supply chain. Climate change not only threatens the sustainability of such a business and every supplier it works with, but also the livelihood of its employees and the health of the local economy.

Badger recently had to face the expensive and disruptive need of reformulating products due to the lack of availability of certain ingredients, so that now it must factor climate change into its product development process.

With unpredictable snowfall and the increased potential for flooding, New Hampshire’s tourism industry is also threatened by climate change. Stronger storms are damaging our roads and bridges. Rising temperatures are affecting our farms and fisheries. The result of all these impacts and more mean higher costs for flood insurance and lost revenue to the state.

New Hampshire’s economy and our way of life won’t continue to thrive if we fail to address the ever increasing impact of climate change in our state. If we continue to lead on climate action, we will not only be doing our part to preserve our state’s mountains, rivers and coastline, and the jobs dependent on such natural resources, but we will also remain friendly to new and existing businesses.

The success of RGGI proves market-based solutions are the most efficient and effective way to reduce emissions and spur energy-efficient economic growth. However, RGGI only applies to our energy sector. In order to meet the state’s necessary emissions reductions goals, we must do more.

A carbon reduction investment study, such as the one proposed in Senate Bill 123, would have allowed the state Legislature to consider a comprehensive range of options for the implementation of an economy-wide carbon pricing system and to select one that would be best for the Granite State. This was exactly the right approach to create bipartisan solutions and one that would have allowed legislators to find the most innovative ways to lead on both emissions reduction and economic growth.

Unfortunately, SB 123 did not pass this year. Next year’s Legislature should use this type of proposal to step up efforts to protect our state’s economy.

We cannot afford to give up the fight if New Hampshire is to be successful in addressing climate change.

(Martha Fuller Clark, a Portsmouth Democrat, was the prime sponsor of SB 123. Rebecca Hamilton is the family owner and vice president of the W.S. Badger Company based in Keene.)

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