Alaska's draft climate change policy proposes carbon price mechanism

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Bill Walker’s Climate Action Leadership Team (CALT) has released its first draft of an Alaska climate change policy, proposing that the state should consider developing a price on carbon and reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

The draft policy notes that Alaska’s economy is dependent on extracting oil and gas, but the team believes a greener future is possible while also “maintaining Alaska’s economic viability.”

In the fall of 2017, Walker passed an administrative order setting up CALT to develop a statewide climate change policy. The 20-person team is continuing to revise its policy in Fairbanks before presenting a final document to Walker in September.

The first draft describes a wider vision for transitioning to renewable sources of energy, but is short on specifics.

Consideration of a carbon fee -- which would charge those that emit pollution -- and a dividend program is mentioned that would lead to "reinvestment in renewable energy development and energy efficiency activities" - a proposed price on carbon is not detailed.

A timeline of reducing emissions by 2030 by "increasing clean energy" consistent with "current state energy policy" is is also described - a specific renewable energy target is not proposed.

The draft policy lists “coastal and riverline erosion, ocean acidification, flooding and permafrost degradation” as challenges stemming from climate change. In order to meet those challenges, the advisory board suggests working with federal agencies, tribes and communities and using Indigenous knowledge.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, the advisory body’s chairperson, spoke to KTUU's Fairbanks sister station KTVF about the differences between facing climate change and disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. Alaskans have regulations and programs “that allow us to be responsive in that way,” to those disasters, said Mallott.

For climate change, the “grave consequences” are “further down the road” and to face it, Mallot believes Alaska needs to define it now and “articulate it in policy.”

See the DRAFT plan here.

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