Study: Vermont, New Hampshire almost opposite on climate action policy

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 7:42 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont trails only Maine in the New England region when it comes to climate action, that’s according to new research out of the University of New Hampshire, the state that scores the worst in the study.

“Understand what each of the six New England states are doing to address climate change,” said Jo Field, a sustainability fellow at the University of New Hampshire.

Field recently stacked New England states against one another on climate action.

“Definitely a wide range of different things taking place in each state,” Field said.

The study gauges climate action on both mitigation and adaptation by comparing what climate policies have been adopted in each state.

“If we are looking at specific metrics of we want to reduce our greenhouse gases by this amount, we need people behind that and people to drive policies,” Field said.

Vermont and New Hampshire emerged as almost opposites in action at the state level.

“When we look at Vermont versus New Hampshire, Vermont has introduced enabling legislation to act on climate. And if we look at New Hampshire, there has been no such legislation at the state level,” Field said.

The study scores Vermont favorably in all categories around climate action, taking into account the Comprehensive Energy Plan, the 2023 state budget that includes $216 million for climate priorities and our environmental justice bill.

“I really think we have a role to play in trying things out to the best of our ability and trying to scale those things up to a national level, " said Jane Lazorchak of the Vermont Climate Action Office.

But some believe Vermont would be better served steering away from mitigation and focusing more on adaptation to climate change.

“I think it’s a bit foolhardy to attempt to change mitigation levels from a Vermont perspective and have an impact on a global scale,” said David Flemming with the Ethan Allen Institute.

Flemming says Vermonters are going to bear the cost of climate policies, putting the state at a competitive disadvantage to other states, including our neighbors in New Hampshire.

Field notes that the global climate does not recognize state borders and can’t be fixed by any single state’s action, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

“What’s happening in each state has implications for its neighboring states, too,” Field said, “and taking the approach of looking at the region as a whole is one step to kind of be thinking about that system.”

Click here for the full study.