Industry leaders, activists talk urgent need for climate action

A number of local and national industry and climate leaders gathered in Concord on Thursday for a youth forum on the urgent need to address the climate crisis. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

January 18, 2024

A number of local and national industry and climate leaders gathered in Concord on Thursday for a youth forum on the need to address the climate crisis.

The event, sponsored by the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Irving Institute for Energy & Society at Dartmouth College, was well attended by students from around the country, but ignored by many of the leading candidates for president, who opted for more traditional barnstorming events across the state.

One candidate who did show up to meet with students, but did not speak at the event, was Marianne Williamson, who said tackling the climate crisis in an urgent, aggressive way was central to her campaign platform.

“We need to make an immediate mass mobilization for a just transition from a dirty economy to a clean economy. If that means declaring a climate emergency, I’ll declare a climate emergency. But it’s got to begin now,” Williamson said.

Local industry experts addressed the crowd echoing the immediate need for climate action.

Britt Lundgren, Director of Sustainability at the Stonyfield organic yogurt company, discussed Stonyfield’s long commitment to addressing climate change through its business practices. She emphasized the important role of both business action and government policy in limiting global warming.

“The single most important task that we all have ahead of us in order to keep global warming below one and a half degrees Celsius is to transition our entire economy to clean and renewable energy.”

Judy Chang, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, said the task of transitioning our economy to meet the needs of our climate was a comprehensive one.

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“We need to consume less. And we need to transition each sector, sector by sector, to decarbonize our economies. And that means that we need to not only change our daily lives in sort of, you know, turn off the lights and take shorter hot showers, but also we need to start thinking about how to transition our buildings.”

Meaningful climate change legislation faces an uphill battle in New Hampshire. In 2020, Gov. Sununu vetoed a bill that would have mandated state utilities to use more than 50% renewable energy by 2040, and Republicans in the legislature have frequently killed bills aimed at addressing climate in the state, while individual lawmakers have denied the very existence of climate change.

Tyler Ray, Executive Director of the Granite Outdoor Recreation Alliance, whose organization works with brands to influence a broad climate agenda, noted how inconsistent the winter weather has been making outdoor activities difficult to plan for.

Ray said the way climate change has impacted New Hampshire was creating a great deal of uncertainty in a state where the outdoor industry plays a major role.

“It’s consistently inconsistent. And that’s something that is tough to get used to particularly as someone who likes to be outdoors as much as I do,” he said. “And so it’s important to recognize that we are here at an important time and important juncture… 3.2% of the economy here in New Hampshire goes to the outdoor recreation.”

Dr. Elizabeth Burakowski, a research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, reviewed climate data showing that most recent years have been warmer than average.

She emphasized that once average winter temperatures rise above 17 degrees Fahrenheit, snow melt accelerates rapidly. Dr. Berkowski discussed projections that show New Hampshire’s winter season could be reduced to just one month if climate change is not adequately addressed.


  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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