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Implications for Alaska of Emerging National and International Climate Policy


Implications for Alaska of Emerging National and International Climate Policy Matthew Berman Institute of Social and Economic Research University of Alaska Anchorage – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Implications for Alaska of Emerging National and International Climate Policy

Implications for Alaska of Emerging National and
International Climate Policy
  • Matthew Berman
  • Institute of Social and Economic Research
  • University of Alaska Anchorage
  • January 20, 2010

According to the Gallup Poll, 39 Percent of
Americans believe in evolution.
According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent
of Americans believe there is solid evidence of
global warming, caused by human activity.
Belief in global warming is waning in the U.S.
Source Pew Research Center for People and the
Press, measured October 2009
Concrete Actions Adopted at the December 2009
Copenhagen Climate Meeting (COP-15)
Three Consensus Issues at the December 2009
Copenhagen Climate Meeting (COP-15)
  • Climate 2C Warming from present is the
    appropriate policy target for international
    mitigation efforts
  • Equity Richer nations should do more to reduce
    GHG emissions than poorer countries and are
    obligated to provide financing for adaptation
  • Trade and economic activity Carbon leakage
    associated with varying emissions policies among
    nations must be addressed
  • Unfortunately, the parties could not agree on a
    plan for addressing any of these issues, due to
    continuing intransigence of the United States and

U.S. Congress Approach to Addressing the Three
Consensus Issues (based on signals from HB 2454)
  • Climate 17 percent emissions cut by 2020,
    including offsets. IPCC says insufficient to meet
    the 2C target, even if met entirely with
    domestic emissions cuts
  • Equity Well make an 83 percent cut by 2050
    (You bet!). Free emissions allocations to
    coal-burning utilities.
  • Trade and economic activity Free emission
    allocations to energy-intensive and
    trade-intensive manufacturing industries and
    maybe impose tariffs on non-participating
    nations. Smaller allowance handouts for petroleum
    refining, but no tariff protection from imports.

Implications for Alaska
  • Climate It is going to get warmer a lot
  • Equity If Congress ever does anything, Alaskans
    will take a hit (especially rural Alaskans).
  • Trade and economic activity (based on HR 2454)
  • Relative price of natural gas will rise relative
    to oil
  • Alaskas main industries oil and gas
    extraction, commercial fisheries, tourism, air
    cargo, mining will all face significant cost
  • Costs will rise for Alaska petroleum refineries

Alaska, like much of the Arctic, is getting
warmer!(and this is just a preview of whats to
Temperatures increased by 3-5 F over much of
Alaska in the last half of the 20th Century.
Winter temperatures increased by as much as 10 F.
Effects of Climate Change for Alaska Communities
  • Environmental change has consequences for
    infrastructure, economic activity and livelihoods
  • Effects felt most strongly in communities that
    depend on renewable resources for livelihoods.
  • Effects highly localized. Focus on a few
    regionally significant changes.

Several villages have to be moved from barrier
island locations due to coastal erosion from
reduced sea ice protection from fall
storms. Cost 100-150 million per community.
Melting permafrost reduces useful life and
increases design costs of infrastructure.
One estimate of cost increase just through 2030
3.6 to 6.1 billion, mostly from repair and
reconstruction of remote water and sewer systems,
airports, roads, and harbors (Larsen et al.,
Solid permafrost and freshwater ice the key to
environmentally friendly, low-cost, and safe
surface transportation in a land without roads.
  • Ice road season steadily decreasing across
    Alaskas North Slope. Replacing seasonal ice
    roads with permanent roads costs 3.5 - 4
    million per mile.
  • Source cost estimate of 350-400 million for
    102 mile road to from Prudhoe Bay to Nuiqsut.
    "Cost Estimates for Alternatives A, B, C, D, and
    F." Alpine Satellite Development Plan Final
    Environmental Impact Statement, Appendix J.
    Anchorage U.S. Dept. of the Interior, BLM, 2005.
  • Late freeze-up of rivers makes travel dangerous
    for village residents.

Impacts to Livelihoods from Changes in Marine
  • Commercial fisheries providing food for the
    world and supporting Alaskas coastal communities
  • Subsistence fisheries and marine mammal harvests
    sustaining cultures, putting food on the table,
    and providing extra cash in rural Alaska

Bering Sea Pollock Americas Largest Fishery(1
billion per year)Fish are moving northwest
towards Russia as waters warm and sea ice melts
Distribution of harvests in 1993
Distribution of harvests in 2007 Source NMFS
Alaska Region, Fisheries Observer Program
Marine mammals dependent on sea ice are rapidly
losing habitat
Walrus provide important source of supplemental
income from sale of ivory carvings as well as
food for Northwest Alaska communities.
Ecological Consequences of Ocean Acidification
Poorly UnderstoodWhat is known bodes ill for
Alaska fisheries
Pteropod (butterfly snail) major food source for
many coldwater marine fish up to 50 of pink
salmon diet is highly vulnerable to
Benefits of Climate Warming for Alaska
  • Benefits for industry longer operating season
    for marine transportation and increased arctic

Benefits of Climate Warming for Alaska
  • Benefits for households and local businesses
    reduced heating costs, greater local food

Warming over the next 40 years is expected to
reduce heating degree-days by 10, saving Alaska
households 200-400 annually. (Based on data
from Saylor, Haley, and Szymoniak, 2008)
Climate Impacts Summary
  • For four out of five Alaskans those living in
    or near urban areas and Southeast Alaska the
    benefits of warming likely exceed the costs.
  • Little infrastructure at risk
  • Big savings in heating bills
  • Enhanced economic opportunities and quality of
  • Climate change brings significant risks for the
    one of five Alaskans living in remote communities
    in Western and Northern Alaska
  • Marine ecosystem changes affecting livelihood
  • Infrastructure damage from coastal erosion and
    permafrost melting
  • Savings in heating costs not enough to offset
    environmental costs
  • Even so, on a day to day basis, concerns about
    environmental change will be dwarfed by issues
    such as the market prices of fish and the cost of
  • The cost of an illness includes the cost of
    measures taken to treat it.
  • If global warming is a cancer, then mitigation
    measures are the chemotherapy.

Alaska is one of the worlds most
fossil-fuel-dependent society.
  • Per-capita carbon dioxide emissions exceed three
    times the U.S. average, and 14 times the world

Why are Alaska emissions so high?
  • Alaska uses less coal but much more oil and gas
    per person than the nation.

Why are Alaska emissions so high?
  • Alaska residential and commercial energy
    consumption is similar to that of other
    Americans, but per-capita industrial and
    transportation consumption is much greater.

High petroleum industry and transportation energy
use leads to high per-capita greenhouse gas
Buried in the Other Transportation category are
Alaskas main (supposedly) sustainable
industriesCommercial Fishing
Buried in the Other Transportation category are
Alaskas main (supposedly) sustainable
Rural Alaska subsistence livelihoods are
completely dependent on the two-stroke engine.
  • Small scale, transportable
  • Simple technology can be repaired in the Bush
  • Terrible fuel economy

Our fair share of global CO2 emissions 4.5 tons
per year (3 tons in 2050 because world
population will be 50 percent larger)What will
one ton of CO2 buy in Alaska?
  • Production and shipping of about 10 barrels of
    Alaska crude oil
  • One round trip from Anchorage to Seattle on a
    commercial flight
  • Harvest of 450 sockeye salmon assuming 300 hp,
    2.56l/d/hp (Tyedmers 2001), 1500 fish/day, based
    on average figures from ADFG Bristol Bay
    management reports
  • 7 hours heli-skiing with Chugach Powder Guides
    assuming A-star helicopter _at_ 45 gph, share with 5
  • One family halibut charter day 350hp 2-stroke,
    39gph, 20 miles _at_ 25mph, or 400hp 4-stroke _at_
    25gph, 30 miles out
  • One hunting trip per month by snowmachine from a
    rural Alaska village, 50 miles round trip
    assuming 2-stroke engine, average fuel economy of
    ten miles per gallon

The cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions
will fall heavily on Alaskas lower income rural
residents.High fuel prices in 2008 provide a
window to such a future.
Why should Alaskans should support greenhouse-gas
  • Adaptation to warming will be relatively painless
    for the vast majority of Alaskans (and
    pleasurable for some)
  • The costs of mitigation are very high.
  • The rational (cost-benefit) argument for climate
    policy will be lost on most Alaskans (as on most
  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to a level that
    would actually control climate change would be
    like undergoing chemotherapy to treat someone
    elses cancer.
  • On the other hand
  • Adaptation to climate change will be exceedingly
    painful for the worlds rural poor.
  • The case will increasingly be made that the
    developed countries and especially the United
    States is responsible for these impacts. We may
    face trade sanctions from Europe and Japan. We
    will start getting blamed for environmental
    disasters in vulnerable nations, and accused of

Is this the legacy we want to leave to our
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