In Alaska, we are experiencing the impacts of climate change more intensely than almost anywhere else. Alaskans know climate change; we see it around us every day – warming waters, changing fish pattern, and impacts on our coastal communities. While we must be serious about addressing the risks associated with climate change, I also believe that with the proper leadership, Alaska can seize new opportunities with these changes. Acting on climate change is an international imperative, but we are already developing the expertise to help the rest of the world deal with both mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts. By addressing climate change head-on and providing the opportunity for the private sector hone their skills, we can market as Alaska a global leader in climate change and a champion for action. As Governor, I would:
- Hone Alaska’s Climate Expertise by Jumpstarting Construction Industry: As mentioned in Infrastructure Plan, I would utilize general obligation (GO) bonds for long-term capital improvements. These GO bonds would not only jumpstart our construction industry paralyzed by five years of meager capital budgets and make a dent in our deferred maintenance backlog, but they would also require that all projects move Alaska towards greater energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, and improved climate readiness. This approach will provide a jolt to employment while also ensuring that each dollar spent helps advance our workforce and develops the needed technology to make Alaska an expert and leader on climate.
- Market Alaska as the “Go-To” for Climate Expertise: As Governor, I will join the bi-partisan U.S. Climate Alliance and use the Alliance as a platform to share what Alaska is doing to address and adapt to a changing climate. Alaska’s private sector, University researchers, and local and state officials have a lot to share with the rest of the world, but we need a platform and a Governor who will sell that story. Using our grit and ingenuity in tough conditions once made us a world leader in telecom and the oil and gas industry. It is time we used that same model to build an industry around clean energy and climate-ready construction.
- Re-establish a Permanent Climate Sub-Cabinet: Bureaucracy, lack of leadership, and lack of attention often stalls good projects that could allow us to understand climate change and be prepared for the changes we know are coming. Without a structure in place, we cannot see action on the good ideas coming from within government, from the current Climate Leadership team, and from the public. That is why I would create a defined structure that would vet concepts and advance good ideas so we don’t see another decade of stagnation. I would also implement a clearly defined set of goals and metrics for this cabinet to regularly assess progress and ensure this doesn’t become another layer of do-nothing bureaucracy. With the right leadership, Alaska has the unmatched ability to cement ourselves as climate leaders both nationally and internationally.