Alaska governor signs order on climate change strategy

Alaska governor signs order on climate change strategy
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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) has signed an order establishing a climate change strategy for the state and appointing a board to investigate ways to limit its effects.

Walker’s order calls on a team of experts to recommend “statuary and regulatory changes” in the state to help it deal with climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The group is directed to focus on adapting for, and responding to, the effects of climate change within Alaska, including rising sea levels and its impact on communities there. 

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But the order aims to support the Paris climate agreement as well, seeking ways to reduce Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

The order calls for recommendations by Sept. 1, 2018. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (D) will spearhead the effort.

Alaska’s proximity to the Arctic Circle and its long coastline make it especially susceptible to climate change. President Obama visited the state in 2015 to highlight the impact of rising sea levels on Arctic communities.

“Alaska is on the front lines of climate change,” Walker told reporters on Tuesday, highlighting rural Alaska communities that will need to relocate because of rising seas.

“It’s something that affects Alaska in ways that no other state has to deal with.”

Walker acknowledged that Alaska’s economy is based on fossil fuel production, and he said that will continue into the future. Walker is due to testify before a Senate committee on potential oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday.

But he said the state will have to find a way to “balance” climate change and the state’s economy.

“You have to balance the two, that’s the way it has to be in Alaska,” he said.

“We will continue to responsibly develop our non-renewable resources and use that as some of the bridge funding to do what we need to do as a result of climate change on Alaska.”