NEWS: Resources Committee Co-Chairs Call for Continued Work on Climate Change in Alaska

Reps. Josephson and Tarr Dismayed by the Presidential Decision to Withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change

June 2, 2017

Juneau – Thursday’s decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris Agreement to combat global climate change has drawn a sharp rebuke from the two Co-chairs of the Resources Committee in the Alaska House of Representatives. Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) and Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) believe the President’s decision is short-sighted and are calling on the Administration of Alaska Governor Bill Walker to join with the Governors of California, New York, and Washington State in their new United States Climate Alliance to press ahead in meeting the targets set forth in the Paris Agreement, which sought to align the efforts of individual countries to address the impacts of climate change and to slow the rate of change.

“The President’s decision marks the moment where America gets left behind on the global stage. Climate change is real and observable. It’s unfathomable to me that the most influential country in the world would just ignore that fact and turn a blind-eye to what many of us consider the most important issue of our time,” said Rep. Josephson. “In the upcoming year, I will be advocating vigorously for measures such as House Bill 173 that protect Alaska from climate change effects. I intend to make sure climate change awareness becomes a priority for our state government, even if our national government has lost focus on the issue. Future generations are depending on us and I don’t intend to let them down.”

Reps. Josephson and Tarr are sponsoring legislation, HB 173, to set up a commission in Alaska to respond to climate change. The commission would be funded by a one cent surcharge on every barrel of oil that flows through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and would be made up of elected city and borough officials from across Alaska and several state department commissioners. A primary duty of the Climate Change Response Commission would be to assist rural communities and non-governmental organizations to secure funding to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. Since 2013, the federal government has spent around $38 billion on climate change research and response. Global climate change spending is estimated at around $392 billion a year.

“As Alaskans, we are fortunate to live in a place with so much pristine wilderness and wildlife. However, we have already seen melting glaciers, coastal erosion, changing migration patterns, food scarcity for wildlife, and declining subsistence resources. We literally have villages in Western Alaska falling into the ocean. All of this is attributable, at least in part, to climate change,” said Rep. Tarr. “We know Alaska’s climate is changing and we would be negligent if we didn’t prepare for that change. The President’s decision is out of step with the wishes and beliefs of the people of Alaska. We can and we must do more to prepare Alaska for the impacts of climate change, which is why I support Alaska joining other states in a coalition to meet the greenhouse gas emission targets laid out in the Paris Agreement.”

The 2015 Paris Agreement is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As part of the agreement, 195 countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which have been found to contribute to global climate change. 147 countries have ratified the agreement. The agreement has also been endorsed by the world’s largest oil and gas companies including Exxon Mobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, and Cheniere, and even major U.S. coal producers like Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy Corp.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.


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