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Time for an enduring climate change commission in Alaska

Time for an enduring climate change commission in Alaska

It’s no secret that Alaskans are on the front lines of climate change, and many of us are demonstrating a desire for policies and actions that address its impacts on our national security, economy and health.

Looking at our business climate, our infrastructure, and the needs of urban and rural residents, it is time for the state to create an Alaska Climate Change Commission that outlives the short-term politics of election cycles. Such a commission would provide consistent information and public accountability in facing this complex problem that will affect all Alaskans and all sectors of our economy well into the future.

Communities across the state have been addressing climatic changes for themselves. For example, the Homer City Council created the first municipal climate action plan in 2007. Since then, at least 10 such plans have been made in communities around the state. Even more communities have established local task forces to develop their own climate plans. Some, like Sitka, are committing resources to maintain and update existing climate plans.

Clear evidence of the rapidly changing environment in Alaska, our strategic location in the Arctic, and our history of practical state politics have made climate policy far less of a divisive partisan issue in the 49th state. Recent calls from moderate and conservative Alaskans show support for federal climate policy that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions while reaping economic benefits.

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