Alaska Climate Emergency

Alaska State Legislators (all)

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Radio Kenai: https://www.radiokenai.net/sunday-swan-lake-update-hot-weather-tests-fire-lines-as-fire-activity-picks-up/

Alaska is warming up to three times faster than the global average. Our communities are experiencing profound disruption from the breakdown of climate and ecological systems across the state, yet our elected leaders have done little to address this crisis.  

Alaskans are holding a vigil at the State Capitol every Monday at noon throughout the 2020 legislative session to tell our legislators it’s time to act.  

Lend your voice by signing the petition to tell our legislators: it's time to tell the truth and take action to fairly and effectively address this unprecedented emergency NOW!

Sponsored by

To: Alaska State Legislators (all)
From: [Your Name]

The past five years have been the hottest on record. Alaska’s warming surpasses the global average, with the Arctic warming three times as fast, and the rest of the state warming twice as fast. Alaska is experiencing rapid, widespread and destablizing climate and ecological changes including: rapidly rising air temperatures, unprecedented drought, more frequent large wildfires, freezing rain, permafrost warming and associated infrastructure and ecosystem impacts and accelerated greenhouse gas emissions; ocean warming and acidification, vanishing sea ice, toxic algal blooms and other diseases, massive sea bird, fish and marine mammal die-offs, shifting animal migration patterns, unstable ice conditions; glacial retreat, tundra greening, intensifying spruce bark beetle outbreaks, exotic species invasions; large scale collapse of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and growing threats to rural subsistence health, safety and food security (1).

These effects are undermining the health, safety, livelihoods and future of Alaskans across the state, but especially front-line communities. It is time to recognize the climate and ecological emergency and swiftly mobilize local, regional and state resources to protect the social, environmental and economic well-being and future of our state and its people.

We need all hands on deck at the state, borough, city and local levels to counter this catastrophe. Around the world, more than 1,177 jurisdictions and local governments, representing more than 260 million citizens, including the Alaska Federation of Natives and Sitka's local Fish & Game Advisory Committee (2), have recognized the climate emergency for what it is. The rest of Alaska must join them.

The economic, social, health and ecological benefits of a rigorous, proactive climate and ecological emergency response far outweigh the cost of inaction (3, 4).

By acknowledging that the unprecedented threat of the climate and ecological crisis demands massive, comprehensive, and urgent action, we specifically call on you for:

1) an economically just and managed phase-out of fossil fuel production and consumption and transition to an efficient, diverse, zero emissions renewable energy-powered economy by or before 2050; and

2) immediate action to expand local food production and ensure food security across the state and especially front-line communities; and

3) full and equitable engagement of front line communities, tribal governments and communities, people of color, and labor unions; and

4) development of a legally binding state Climate Action Plan directly informed by diverse stakeholder groups representative of Alaska; and

5) robust research, development, policy and program initiatives capable of positioning Alaska education, business, non-profit, governance and energy sectors at the helm of climate and ecological solutions in the global economy.

6) enactment of the Alaska Climate Change Response Fund Act of 2020 (5) to finance the states overall preparedness for, and response to, the impacts of climate change in Alaska including establishment of an Alaska Climate Change Response Fund financed by a minimum 10 cent ($0.10) per-barrel-equivalent assessment on all hydrocarbons produced in Alaska (oil, natural gas, and coal).

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that by 2030, the planet could warm by 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, leading to significant sea level rise, extraordinary biodiversity loss, and intensifying extreme weather events. Recent studies indicate even greater acceleration, including a possible ice-free Arctic summer as soon as 2030, if greenhouse gases continue to rise (6).

This is an emergency. It is time to act.

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References:

(1) Thoman & Walsh, Alaska's Changing Environment, IARC 2019, https://uaf-iarc.org/our-work/alaskas-changing-environment/

(2) Climate emergency declarations in 1,177 jurisdictions and local governments cover 290 million citizens globally, https://climateemergencydeclaration.org/climate-emergency-declarations-cover-15-million-citizens/ and Alaska Federation of Natives, https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/10/21/pushed-by-youths-afn-declares-a-climate-emergency/ and https://www.kcaw.org/2019/11/19/sitka-ac-backs-roadless-resolution-afn-climate-emergency/

(3) Berman & Schmidt, Economic Effects of Climate Change in Alaska, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, Nov. 2018, https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/WCAS-D-18-0056.1

(4) Melvina, Larsen, et al., Climate change damages to Alaska public infrastructure and the economics of proactive adaptation, PNS 2016, https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/114/2/E122.full.pdf

(5) ALASKA CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE FUND ACT OF 2020, proposed by Rick Steiner: http://www.akclimateaction.org/2020/01/alaska-climate-change-response-fund-act.html

(6) Screen & Deser, Pacific Ocean Variability Influences the Time of Emergence of a Seasonally Ice‐Free Arctic Ocean, Geophysical Research Letters, 2019, https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2018GL081393