This page provides an overview of the steps New Hampshire is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
In December 2007, Governor John Lynch established a Climate Change Policy Task Force and directed the Task Force to develop a Climate Action Plan for the state (Executive Order 2007-3). The Task Force was composed of 29 members including regulators, scientists, business leaders, utility representatives, and environmental groups, and was chaired by the Commissioner of New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services (DES); it included a work group focused on adaptation. On March 25, 2009, the Task Force released the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan, which includes a chapter on Adapting to a Changing Climate (Chapter 3) and called for the state to create a stand-alone climate change adaptation plan. Additionally, as recommended in the plan, the state subsequently established the New Hampshire Energy and Climate Collaborative to facilitate the implementation of the plan's recommendations by bringing together leaders from all sectors of society — government, business, nonprofits, and academia.
Legislation Supporting State-Level Adaptation
In 2013, the New Hampshire legislature created the Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission (NHCRHC) and charged it with recommending “legislation, rules, and other actions to prepare for projected sea-level rise and other coastal and coastal watershed hazards . . .” The commission included members of the state House of Representatives and Senate, state agencies, academic institutions, regional planning commissions, one representative from every coastal community, and representatives from the insurance, building, and emergency planning sectors. The commission sunset in 2016 after the release of its final report, Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-level Rise, and Extreme Precipitation. The report assesses climate vulnerabilities in the state’s coastal areas; identifies barriers to incorporating climate change science and information into planning and practice; and recommends adaptation policies for the state legislature, state agencies, and coastal municipalities.
In May 2016, the state passed Senate Bill (SB) 374 mandating DES to convene and supervise a multi-agency team to update and summarize coastal flooding trends based on sea-level rise, extreme precipitation, and storm surge projections in a 2014 report by NHCRHC, Sea-Level Rise, Storm Surges, and Extreme Precipitation in Coastal New Hampshire: Analysis of Past and Projected Trends. These trends must be updated every five years beginning July 1, 2019. SB 374 implemented one of NHCRHC’s recommendations in its 2016 final report to ensure that New Hampshire is acting on and referencing the most up-to-date science.
In June 2016, the state legislature passed SB 452 “requiring state agencies to conduct an audit of laws governing coastal regions” to enable them to take “appropriate actions” to better prepare for climate-related risks, such as storm surges, sea-level rise, and precipitation events. The audit is expected to be completed in 2018. In addition to the audit, some state agencies have been actively engaging in adaptation planning since 2009. For example, DES incorporated climate change into its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, to consider climate change in all DES programs and activities.
Also in June 2016, the state legislature passed SB 376-FN requiring the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to identify existing and needed wildlife corridors for connecting habitats in the state to support wildlife resilience in light of climate change and development pressures. The legislation also calls on the Fish and Game Department to make recommendations about any legislative changes needed to enhance the state’s wildlife corridors.
Legislation Supporting Local Adaptation
In 2013, the legislature passed Senate Bill 164 (Revised Statutes § 674:2 II) that authorized municipalities to incorporate coastal management provisions in master plans (i.e., local land-use plans) to address the loss of property that can result from projected coastal risks due to increasing frequency of storm surge, flooding, and inundation.
In 2017, the New Hampshire legislature passed legislation enabling municipalities to create a tax incentive program to encourage resilience in coastal areas (New Hampshire Revised Statutes § 79-E:4-a). Municipalities can establish “Coastal Resilience Incentive Zones” in their jurisdictions to grant property owners tax relief for undertaking “resilience measures” for qualified properties or structures identified by storm surge, sea-level rise, or extreme precipitation projections.
These pages highlight the progress New Hampshire is making to implement its statewide adaptation plan. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help New Hampshire prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: August 27, 2018).
New Hampshire Climate Action Plan: A Plan for New Hampshire's Energy, Environmental and Economic Development Future
Finalized: March 2009
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|New Hampshire Senate Bill (S.B.) 285: Establishing a Coastal Resilience and Economic Development Program||Law and Governance||August 3, 2019|
|New Hampshire Coastal Resilience Incentive Zone Program for Municipalities||Law and Governance||September 3, 2017|
|New Hampshire SB 452: State agencies required to prepare for coastal flooding||Law and Governance||June 13, 2016|
|New Hampshire SB 376-FN: An Act relative to wildlife corridors||Law and Governance||June 10, 2016|
|New Hampshire SB 374: Requiring the Department of Environmental Services to update coastal flooding trends||Law and Governance||May 20, 2016|
|New Hampshire Senate Bill 163: Establishing a commission to recommend legislation to prepare for projected sea level rise and other coastal and coastal watershed hazards||Law and Governance||July 2, 2013|
|New Hampshire Executive Order 2007-3||Law and Governance||December 6, 2007|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|New Hampshire Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission Final Report: Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-Level Rise and Extreme Precipitation||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment||November 2016|
|New Hampshire Drinking Water Climate Change Resilience Plan||Water infrastructure, Water resources||October 2014|
|New Hampshire Ecosystems and Wildlife Climate Change Adaptation Plan||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Fish and fisheries, Wildlife||October 2013|
|Preparing for Climate Change: A Strategic Plan to Address the Health Impacts of Climate Change in New Hampshire||Public health||July 2010|
|New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Wildlife||2006|
|Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Hampton, New Hampshire: Community-Driven Climate Adaptation Planning Process||July 15, 2020|
|Town of Newmarket, New Hampshire Master Plan||July 2015|
|Durham, New Hampshire HMP Climate Adaptation Chapter: Developing Strategies to Protect Areas at Risk from Flooding due to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise||June 25, 2013|
|Portsmouth, New Hampshire Coastal Resilience Initiative: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan||April 2, 2013|
|The City of Keene, New Hampshire’s Adaptation Planning Activities – Transportation Elements||September 13, 2010|
|City of Keene, New Hampshire - Adapting to Climate Change: Planning a Climate Resilient Community||November 2007|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|New Hampshire’s Climate Risk in the Seacoast (C-RiSe) Project||Assessments|
|New Hampshire Setting SAIL (Science, Assessment, Implementation, and Legislation) Project||Funding|
|From Tides to Storms: Preparing for New Hampshire's Future Coast - Assessing Risk and Vulnerability of Coastal Communities to Sea-Level Rise and Storm Surge||Assessments||September 2015|
|New Hampshire Coastal Viewer||Data and tools||2015|
|Climate Change and Human Health in New Hampshire: An Impact Assessment||Assessments||May 2015|
|Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation Infrastructure in New Hampshire||Assessments||April 2014|
|Adaptation Toolkit for New Hampshire Communities||Adaptation Websites||2013|
|Oyster River (New Hampshire) Culvert Analysis Project||Assessments||March 2010|
|Seabrook, New Hampshire - Adaptation Strategies to Protect Areas of Increased Risk From Coastal Flooding Due to Climate Change||Planning||July 25, 2009|
|New Hampshire Climate Action Plan: A Plan for New Hampshire's Energy, Environmental and Economic Development Future||Planning||March 2009|