I, Bill Walker, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of Article III, Sections 1 and 24 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska, and in accordance with AS 44.19.145(c), establish the Alaska Climate Change Strategy and the Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team to advise the Governor on critical and timely actions to address climate change challenges that will safeguard Alaska now and for future generations.
Alaskans have always depended upon the bounty of natural resources and wildlife from our land, rivers, seas, and oceans. Scientific research and indigenous knowledge indicate that climate change threatens the availability and quality of these resources within our state, with associated risks to our health, safety, and economic future. As the northernmost state, Alaska is America’s Arctic, and our state’s communities face accelerating rates of erosion, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, rapidly thawing permafrost, and changing intensity of wildland fires. These physical changes threaten people’s safety and security, undermine the social and cultural fabric of our communities, and disproportionately affect those on the frontlines of climate change. To assure Alaska’s continued growth and resilience despite climate challenges requires communities statewide to work together as they have throughout Alaska’s history to pioneer solutions to our most difficult problems. These solutions require creating a vision for Alaska’s future that incorporates long-term climate goals, yet recognizes the need for non-renewable resources to meet current economic and energy requirements during a transition to a renewable energy based future.
To ensure Alaska’s future prosperity and to protect its citizens, the State must lead a collective and strategic response to climate change that builds upon our diverse knowledge, our research capabilities, and our strong local, regional, and indigenous leadership. State leaders must prepare for both the near- and long-term impacts of climate change, creating immediate, actionable, and equitable solutions.
In addition, the State may also engage with national and international partners to seek collaborative solutions to climate change that support the goals of the United Nations 2015 Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #13, “Climate Action,” while also pursuing new opportunities to keep Alaska’s economy competitive in the transition to a sustainable future.
Building upon the recommendations and successes of prior climate policy initiatives within the state, the Alaska Climate Change Strategy provides a framework for developing innovative solutions to the challenges of a rapidly changing climate, informed by the best available science and technology, integration of indigenous and local knowledge, and consideration of Alaska’s economic interests.
The Alaska Climate Change Strategy should encourage community input and collaborate with local and regional governments, indigenous organizations, private sector entities, nonprofit organizations, and educational and academic institutions. Climate solutions should provide equitable support to communities impacted most by climate change. In addition, state leadership should ensure that Alaskan communities and businesses have the support necessary to benefit from the educational and economic opportunities created by the global response to climate change.
The Alaska Climate Change Strategy should strengthen educational efforts at all levels to increase understanding of climate change causes and impacts and to build a capable workforce ready to meet future challenges and opportunities. Toward this end Alaska must continue to build and expand national and international partnerships to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and to develop resources to address needed change as part of our responsibility as global citizens.
I establish the Alaska Climate Change Strategy to further the objectives set out above. As part of this Strategy, I establish and charge the Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team (Leadership Team) to develop a recommended plan of action. The Leadership Team shall address the following categories and identify how they intersect.
- Mitigation: Actions to reduce, sequester, and offset greenhouse gas emissions to decrease our carbon footprint.
- Adaptation: Actions to evaluate risks and adopt measures to address or reduce the vulnerability of Alaska’s citizens, environment, and infrastructure to climate change impacts.
- Research: Actions to support and bolster monitoring, observing, modeling, scientific analysis, data sharing, planning, innovation, and public outreach and education related to climate change and mitigation and adaptation strategies.
- Response: Actions to plan and train for timely and robust responses to protect and address near-term threats to Alaska’s communities and regions from current consequences and impacts of climate change, including, but not limited to, ocean acidification, coastal erosion, storm impacts, oil and other toxic spills, and infrastructure damage.
Further, the Leadership Team may consider these and other themes in the context of climate change:
- Renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- Social, health, and economic assessment;
- Economic opportunity and technological innovation;
- Infrastructure and the built environment;
- Collaboration and information sharing;
- Risk communication and planning;
- Human capacity building;
- Community engagement and resilience; and
- Emergency response and immediate action.
The Leadership Team shall identify measures to attract financial and human resources to the state, the University of Alaska, nonprofit organizations, and other organizations working to address climate change in Alaska with the aim to meet and expand the goals of this strategy.
The Leadership Team shall begin its work immediately upon appointment of team members. In addition to providing actionable recommendations and progress reports on a quarterly basis, the Leadership Team will present to the Governor an initial plan of action not later than September 1, 2018. This plan of action may include recommended statutory and regulatory changes. Thereafter the Leadership Team will monitor the implementation of climate actions approved by the Governor and provide to the Governor continued recommendations for implementation of this Order, including timely updates, modifications, and additional initiatives to the recommended plan of action. The Leadership Team will present an annual report to the Governor by September 1 of each year.
The Office of the Governor will consult with the Leadership Team and with departments and agencies to evaluate the Leadership Team’s recommendations and determine timely and appropriate actions for implementation.
Further, consistent with applicable law and in consultation with the Office of the Governor, State departments and agencies shall, without delay, prioritize, develop, implement and recommend actions that further the purpose of this Order, including regulatory and statutory changes as may be timely and appropriate.
Role of Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team
The Leadership Team shall build on already completed research, analysis, and policy recommendation efforts to identify or reassert climate change priorities, set goals and metrics, identify funding, evaluate and report on progress, gather input that will inform current climate priorities and develop new policy priorities, and, if needed, recommend statutory and regulatory changes, in response to emerging opportunities and risks. The Leadership Team shall serve as a resource to the Governor by providing advice and external feedback. External feedback should include input from subject matter experts and the public. In addition, the Leadership Team may engage with federal and state elected representatives to identify opportunities for legislative and congressional support. The Leadership Team should meet in-person at least once per year at the call of the chair and will communicate as necessary through use of teleconference and other electronic and written means.
Composition of Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team
The Governor will select a chair of the Leadership Team who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Leadership Team will include up to 15 public members that provide broad, Alaska-based representation from key stakeholder groups including local governments, indigenous organizations, private sector entities, educators and academia, youth, and others. Public members will be appointed by the Governor to serve a three-year term at the pleasure of the Governor. The Governor may at any time remove or replace members to maintain balanced representation. In addition, the Leadership Team will include a representative from the University of Alaska, a representative from the Alaska Energy Authority, the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources; each commissioner may designate a representative. The Governor may appoint commissioners of other departments as members of the Leadership Team.
The Leadership Team will meet at the call of the Governor or the chair. The chair may invite participation by non-members, create and dissolve subcommittees or working groups of non-member subject matter experts, and otherwise facilitate the work of the Leadership Team.
The Governor’s Office will provide leadership and primary staff support for implementation of the Alaska Climate Change Strategy and the work of the Leadership Team. The Governor’s Office may contract with individuals or organizations for professional services needed to assist the Leadership team, including research and other duties. The Governor’s Office may also direct appropriate departments and agencies to provide support resources.
The public members of the Leadership Team and any public committee members receive no compensation or other remuneration from the State as members. Leadership Team members who are State employees and who must travel to Leadership Team meetings are entitled to per diem and travel expenses as permitted for State employees; the employee’s department will pay those expenses. Leadership Team public members are entitled to travel expenses in the same manner as permitted for members of State boards and commissions and in accord with any applicable travel restrictions; travel must be approved by the Office of the Governor.
Meetings of the Leadership Team shall be conducted in accordance with AS 44.62.310 – 44.62.319 (Open Meetings Act). The Leadership Team shall use teleconferencing or other electronic means to the extent practicable to gain the widest public participation at minimum cost.
Records of the Leadership Team are subject to inspection and copying as public records under AS 40.25.110 – 40.25.220 (Alaska Public Records Act).
Nothing in this Order limits, or otherwise modifies any existing statutory or regulatory authority of any State agency.
This Order takes effect immediately. Administrative Order 238 is revoked effective immediately.
Dated at Juneau, Alaska, this 31st day of October, 2017.