January 6, 2023
City Manager Karen Conard announced that the City has selected a partnership of VHB, Resilience Planning & Design LLC and the Rockingham Planning Commission to create the City’s first Climate Action Plan in partnership with the City Planning and Sustainability Department and the local community. Planning and Sustainability Director Peter Britz and Associate Environmental Planner Kate Homet are leading the initiative on the City staff side.
The consultants will help the City of Portsmouth create a plan that will serve as the foundation for all climate adaptation projects and goals for the next 50 years. Their task is to align the existing Coastal Resiliency Initiative (CRI) with new adaptation efforts to create systems for benchmarking, policy evaluation and tracking progress. The City’s Planning and Sustainability Department has already begun aligning with working groups who are establishing sustainability efforts within the community, including the Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices, Portsmouth Climate Solutions, Portsmouth High School Eco Club and the City’s Governance Committee.
“As an Eco-Municipality, the City of Portsmouth intends to create and implement an innovative and extensive climate action plan that helps fortify our city against current and future climate threats,” said City Manager Conard in making the announcement. “The Climate Action Plan that results from this initiative is intended to integrate climate adaptation planning into the City’s local planning and regulatory framework. This team and this Plan will advance the City’s objectives as an Eco-Municipality and empower and encourage residents, businesses, visitors and City staff to take action to reduce and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
The consultants, through the Planning and Sustainability Department work internally across all City Departments and through outreach with the community to identify short-, medium- and long-term strategies for a Climate Action Plan that provides an innovative, step-by-step approach to addressing, mitigating, and adapting to ongoing and future climate change impacts in an effective and equitable manner.
The team will first focus on understanding how the community interacts with the natural environment, evaluating existing conditions, existing challenges, community values, the natural environment and the City’s role as an eco-municipality.
The City of Portsmouth declared itself an Eco-Municipality in 2007 and strives to make decisions that will benefit the community through four key steps:
• Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels and extracted underground metals and minerals;
• Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in nature;
• Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining eco-systems; and
• Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently.
The Climate Action Plan will recommend strategies to achieve the City’s climate change goals that:
• Inform and advance resiliency and sustainability in City decision making;
• Increase public awareness and help inform and empower community members to make choices that advance community climate change goals; and
• Advance equity to ensure that all community members experience the benefits of positive outcomes and that none bear a disproportional share of the impacts of climate change.
The Climate Action Plan project is being funded with Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Grant (SFLRF/ARPA) monies. Go to more information on the City’s Sustainability Initiatives.