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N.E. lags in push to reduce global warming pollution

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Associated Press / March 27, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. - New England is not on track to meet its targets for reductions in global warming pollution, a commitment made in 2001, according to a report issued by a coalition of environmental groups.

Global warming emissions have increased since then in most sectors of the region's economy, from transportation, electricity generation, and fossil fuel consumption, said the report released yesterday, "Falling Behind: New England Must Act Now to Reduce Global Warming Pollution."

But emissions fell slightly from 2004 to 2005, and several indicators suggest the trend continued in 2006, the report said. The leading reason for the decline was a reduction in emissions from oil consumption in the residential, commercial, and transportation sectors. In 2005, oil prices increased and the demand for home heating oil was down slightly because of the warmer winter.

"In the next century, New England could see coastal flooding, displacement of critical animal and plant habitat, death of hardwood trees responsible for vibrant fall displays, loss of a reliable ski season, and damage from more severe storms," the report said.

If current warming trends continue, the region's average year-round temperatures will rise between 6 and 10 degrees over the next 100 years, making Boston's climate feel more like Richmond's or Atlanta's, said Barry Rock, a climate scientist with the University of New Hampshire.

Of all the states in the region, New Hampshire had the greatest increase in emissions between 2001 and 2005, the period studied since members of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers signed a Climate Change Action Plan.

Rhode Island was the only state to show a drop in emissions; they fell 7 percent between 2001 and 2005, the report said. The bulk of the drop was due to reductions in power production and transportation emissions.

The study suggested:

Adopting mandatory caps on global warming pollution from all sectors of the economy.

Strengthening environmental and energy policies, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state plan that caps emissions from electric power plants. The measure passed in the New Hampshire House last week, and is now before the state Senate.

Building a more sustainable transportation system that would reduce emissions by investing in rail and encouraging downtown redevelopment in a pedestrian-friendly way.

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