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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Transportation and Climate Change

Climate change is real, serious and primarily caused by human actions. This fact is supported by the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists. New Hampshire residents are already experiencing its effects as our environment changes, from more intense rainstorms that damage roads and culverts and cause damage to homes and businesses, to warmer temperatures that affect maple-syrup production and support invasive species. As the greenhouse gases that cause climate change continue to increase in the atmosphere, New Hampshire must find ways to address all their sources and be part of the global solution.

The transportation sector, including highway vehicles, aircraft, ships and boats, is a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2011, this sector emitted 27 percent of the GHG emissions in the US 1. Of these, the largest contributors are passenger cars and light duty trucks.

Chart of US Transportation GHG Emissions by SourceThere are many strategies to reduce GHG emissions from transportation including:

  • Reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMT).
    • Expand public transit, ridesharing and telecommuting opportunities to reduce the number of single occupant vehicles.
    • Enable walking and bicycling as viable means of transportation by ensuring that infrastructure, like sidewalks and bike lanes, are available to make these activities safe.
    • Plan mixed-use communities, where employment opportunities, amenities, goods and services and housing are co-located or connected by reliable public transportation.
  • Improve vehicle efficiency. US EPA/DOT fuel economy standards will continue to improve mileage for on-road vehicles, which will reduce GHG emissions. Other means of improving efficiency include:
    • Hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. These travel farther on a gallon of gas.
    • Use rail for the transportation of goods. According to the Association of American Railroads, if just 10 percent of long-distance freight that currently moves by highway switched to rail, national fuel savings would approach one billion gallons a year and annual greenhouse gas emissions would fall by more than 10 million tons.2
    • Employ idle reduction practices and technologies. Each year, US on-road vehicles consume more than 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline while idling.3
  • Use less carbon intensive fuels. Certain fuels emit fewer GHG than conventional petroleum fuels when their entire life cycle (“well to wheels”) is analyzed. These include electricity], hydrogen], natural gas], propane and biodiesel.

Efforts at the federal level will also reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector. New standards for model year 2017-2025 light duty vehicles will reduce GHG emissions of a new 2025 vehicle by about ½ as compared to a 2010 model. GHG emission standards for medium and heavy duty vehicles will be phased in through the 2018 model year leading to further reductions.

For more information about climate change in New Hampshire, visit

1 Fast Facts U.S. Transportation Section Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2011 (September 2013), Retrieved July 14, 2014 from EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality,

2 Environment: American Association of Railroads (2014, April). Retrieved July 15, 2014 from American Association of Railroads,

3 U.S. Department of Energy , Retrieved August 6, 2014 from

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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