Alaska is Extremely Vulnerable to Climate Change:

  • Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the country over the past 60 years. The first two months of 2016 witnessed record-setting warmth and scientists attributed it to global warming.
  • Alaska’s average temperature will warm by 3.9°F to 8.0°F in the next 35 years and it could rise by as much as 19°F by 2100, according to a report by Risky Business.
  • Much of Alaska’s infrastructure is built on a thick layer of permafrost, which is now melting. In addition to causing houses and roads to sink and putting local communities at risk, thawing permafrost is forcing military bases to contend with uneven roads and runways.
  • Thawing permafrost contributes to more severe and dangerous wildfires and will exponentially increase the cost of infrastructure maintenance.
  • Receding Arctic summer sea ice could almost completely disappear by the end of the century, threatening the land and food security ofAlaska’s subsistence hunters. The villages of Shishmaref, Kivalina, and Newtok have already begun relocation plans, with another 160 rural communities threatened by erosion.
  • Shrinking glaciers will impact hydropower production as well as ocean circulation patterns and fisheries, which are already at risk from climate-change-induced ocean acidification.

Energy Efforts and Opinion in Alaska:

  • The latest Gallup poll reveals that at 64 percent, serious concern for global warming is at an eight-year high across the country.
  • 62 percent of Alaskan adults understand global warming is already happening and nearly half recognize that it is caused mostly by humans.
  • A strong 76 percent support funding research into renewable energy resources while 67 percent favor regulating CO2 as a pollutant.
  • Most of Alaska’s electricity comes from natural gas, though hydro and coal are also well represented. Wind and geothermal constitute a small portion of the energy mix.
  • During his visit in September 2015, President Obama committed $4 million for faster renewable energy adoption in remote Alaskan communities. He also announced plans to support relocation efforts for communities being displaced by climate impacts, and other resilience strategies for rural and coastal Alaskan communities.
  • Kodiak, the second largest island in the U.S., has been running on 100 percent renewable energy — wind and hydro — since 2014. It saves the city from burning 2 million gallons of diesel annually. The cost of electricity in Kodiak is cheaper now than it was 15 years ago, and Kodiak residents pay less for their power bills than other cities on mainland Alaska.
  • Shell Oil announced in October it was shelving its exploratory oil drilling plans after running a rig aground in late 2012 and in the face of intense pressure from environmental activists. Statoil also quit its operations in Alaska in late 2015.
  • The Clean Power Plan (CPP) exempts Alaska from making any greenhouse emissions cuts from the power sector by 2030. Non-contiguous states and territories are the only ones exempt from the plan.