IARC researchers contribute to Anchorage Climate Action Plan

On May 21 the Anchorage Assembly adopted the Anchorage Climate Action Plan, a long sought-after strategic framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change. The plan was developed in collaboration between the University of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage. Several International Arctic Research Center scientists were involved including Brian Brettschneider who was a co-investigator.

The plan is a vision document organized into seven categories: buildings and energy; land use and transportation; consumption and solid waste; health and emergency preparedness; food systems; urban forest and watersheds; outreach and education. Each category contains specific long-term targets that will guide Municipality of Anchorage policy in the years to come.

Targets are accompanied by “a laundry list of actions that could meet those goals,” explained Brettschneider. For example, under the land use and transportation section there is a specific target to “establish proactive planning approaches that incorporate climate action.” The plan includes three actions that would help achieve this goal including “incorporating climate projections in transportation, hazard mitigation, and development planning.”

The target/activity combos will help municipal departments and agencies incorporate the Climate Action Plan goals into their planning documents.

IARC and the Center for Arctic Policy Studies also supported Resilience Fellow, Alex Long, who helped link UA experts to knowledge gaps in the Climate Action Plan. Long filled a variety of logistical roles as well, “these included organizing and hosting technical sessions, providing background research, writing and editing the plan, organizing and hosting outreach events, and developing communication materials,” said Long.

The development of the plan was highly influenced by the public, some of whom have worked twenty years to see its fruition. Over one hundred members of the public were involved in crafting the plan and a draft was presented to numerous community and business groups before entering a public comment period. Twenty-two members of the public gave testimony in support of the plan at the Anchorage Assembly hearing. Following this overwhelming support, the assembly voted ten to two in favor of the plan passing. This ratio makes it a veto-proof majority, protecting its future.

Oversight of the plan will be kept in the public sphere and handed off to a citizen-led group.