Quantcast

Alaska Defies Partisan Climate Divide With Forthcoming Action Plan

Climate
The Native Alaskan village of Kivalina is especially vulnerable to climate change. ShoreZone / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Alaska has voted for a Republican for president in every U.S. election since 1964, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Given the growing partisan divide on climate change, one would not expect the state to take action on climate change, let alone acknowledge that it is a problem.


But Alaska is also uniquely impacted by the effects of climate change. Scientists have called this year's loss of sea ice on the Bering Sea a "natural disaster" for Alaskan communities that rely on the ice pack to facilitate transportation and hunting, and to protect their homes from winter storms. The Native Alaskan village of Kivalina, located on a barrier island, even took a leading role in seeking damages for climate change when it sued fossil fuel companies in 2008 over the impacts of erosion and flooding from coastal storms due to sea-ice loss, though the suit was unsuccessful.

Now impacts are building up to the point where state politicians have no choice but to take action and are developing a plan to that end, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"The change has been so real and so widespread that it's become impossible to ignore," Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Byron Mallott told The New York Times. "Folks are realizing that it's something we have to deal with," he said.

Mallott is in charge of a task force initiated by Independent Gov. Bill Walker in October 2017 that is due to propose policy recommendations to reduce the state's emissions and mitigate the impacts of warming by September.

The most recent draft, dated April 25, calls on Alaska to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third below 2005 emissions by the same date.

However, as The New York Times pointed out, Alaska's major contribution to global emissions comes in the form of the oil and gas exported by the state to the rest of the country.

Alaska gets 85 percent of its budget from oil production, and its leaders are averse to directly challenging the source of their funding.

The most recent draft of the climate action plan took out a line from an earlier draft saying "There is an economic and ethical imperative to pursue a transition away from a global dependence on fossil fuels," and both Walker and Mallott support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Not all Alaskans agree with this pro-oil outlook. 16 young Alaskans, represented by Our Children's Trust, have sued the state for actions contributing to climate change, as Inside Climate News outlined in May.

"We're talking about climate change and we're seeing all these impacts, but at the same time we're continuing to pursue activities that create climate change," one of the young people named in the case, Tasha Elizarde, said. "I hope that this pushes the Walker administration and future administrations to look at this case and understand what a big problem climate change can be."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less