Climate change planners welcome public input at summit

Collapsed roofs, flooded basements, wind storms, ice storms, wildfires, power outages and smoky air — the Fairbanks North Star Borough faces a multi-pronged climate disaster, according to the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition and The Alaska Center.

A public summit on climate action is planned Aug. 13 in the Mona Lisa Drexler Borough Assembly Chambers, 907 Terminal St.

It’s an opportunity for people to weigh in on a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan under development for the second-class borough. The basic goal of the plan is to help the borough government prepare for climate change impacts to its facilities and services, but the plan “could potentially be much broader,” reads a new release from the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition and The Alaska Center.

“A large influx of money for climate-related projects will soon become available through the federal infrastructure bill,” the news release reads. “The borough’s implementation of this planning process comes at the intersection of a daunting need and a promising source for problem-solving resources.”
The agenda for the summit, which is 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., shows that a series of discussions are planned with six main areas of interest: buildings and energy; food, agriculture and health; education and workforce development; transit and mobility; planning, platting, land use and management; and procurement, waste management and recycling. Coffee and refreshments will be provided.

The Borough Assembly allocated $79,700 toward the plan in an ordinance adopted April 8, 2021, and a consultant was hired to help. The final product will eventually go before the assembly for approval. Other local governments in Alaska, including Anchorage and Homer, have developed similar plans.

This is the second of three public outreach events. The first was held in May at the J.P. Jones Community Center in South Fairbanks.

The planning effort is being led by the Assembly Climate Action Committee, which meets next on Aug. 16. Members include Borough Mayor Bryce Ward assembly Presiding Officer Mindy O’Neall.

According to the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition and The Alaska Center, the climate action plan has the potential to “address the myriad climate related emergencies currently impacting borough residents, as well as create new green jobs, lower energy costs and improve borough infrastructure.”

Tristan Glowa is the organizing director with the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition.

“Fairbanks community members have a great opportunity now to shape how our community will do our part to address the climate crisis, so the borough needs to hear what matters most to us,” Glowa said in a prepared statement. “There are many strategies the FNSB can take to simultaneously improve and protect services, reduce climate pollution, and move our local economy in an innovative and sustainable direction. It’s up to us to speak up and call for our borough to get moving on the climate action we need to see.”

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Originally published on August 8, 2022 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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