Looking to the future, Anchorage finalizes Climate Action Plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — After a year of development with guidance from more than 100 city leaders, university professors and other subject matter experts, the Anchorage Climate Action plan has been completed, setting a blueprint for how the city will adapt to and attempt to mitigate a changing climate.

"It has two big parts basically. We have how we're going to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate, and then how we're going to reduce our contribution to climate change," said Catherine Kemp, Special Assistant to the Mayor.

The plan addresses seven categories: buildings and energy, land use and transportation, consumption and solid waste, health and emergency preparedness, food systems, urban forest and watersheds and outreach and education.

"Our state is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the country and so there are effects around the state that are already being seen, from permafrost thaw to the loss of sea ice," Kemp said. "We're seeing a longer and more dangerous fire season. We're seeing spruce bark beetle infestations, which contribute to that more dangerous fire season. We're looking at different winter precipitation. We're looking at rain on snow events which has implications for safety and maintenance of critical infrastructure."

Kemp says more than 1,400 residents either submitted comments on the plan during the drafting process or attended one of several open houses over the last year.

Some parts of the plan are already in place. The Spenard Road corridor demonstrates a thoroughfare with bike lanes, wider sidewalks and LED streetlights.

"A big part of the plan is improving our bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make it easier, more accessible, safer for people to take forms of transportation other than cars," Kemp said.

Transitioning from fluorescent to LED lighting has already taken place across much of Anchorage resulting in a noticeable cost savings. Anchorage fire stations that have been upgraded have seen 35 to 40 percent decreases in energy consumption.

Kemp says funding is already in place for some parts of the plan, while other projects will require receiving grants or other funding mechanisms.

"When we look at local government operations, we account for maybe 4 to 5 percent of total emissions across our community, so it's important that residents and businesses and institutions all get involved in this too," Kemp said. "In order to achieve our goals we're going to need everyone."

The full plan is expected to be published on the municipality website this week.

Although the plan is finalized, it still requires the Anchorage Assembly's approval to be fully adopted. The assembly is scheduled to vote on the plan on May 21.

Originally published April 24, 2019

By KTUU, Grant Robinson

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