Stories in Alaska

Alaska’s Progress on Climate Solutions

Positive efforts for stopping pollution and helping nature are happening now.

Iceberg drifting in a body of water.
Ephemeral Ephemeral // Iceberg in the glacial lagoon of Bear Glacier, Alaska.  The lagoon was recently created by the rapidly receding glacier, and it is expected to last only another ten years before it runs dry due to additional recession of Bear Glacier. © Craig Olson/TNC Photo Contest 2022

In a world absolutely brimming with all kinds of natural wonder, Alaska’s own spectacular marvels make it a place apart. From high mountain snowpack to the streams that bring water to our taps and give life to baby salmon, Alaska’s seasons shape the world around us. They bring a familiar rhythm to our towns and communities. Even if it’s not something we think about every day, the dependability of our seasons has been a reliable part of life in Alaska.

Yet across Alaska, we can see the signs of a changing climate in the uptick of extreme weather, landslides and higher risk of uncontrollable wildfires. Over the past 50 years, Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the United States. Those of us who know and love Alaska and our ways of life are watching changes in the places where we live and work. 

Search for Solutions to Climate Change in Alaska

The changes are prompting an array of responses across the state.

A rainbow rises from a sunlit tundra mountain.
Denali National Park rainbow A rainbow in Denali National Park. © Alex VanDerStuyf/National Park Service

People in Alaska are seeing how climate change brings a domino effect of warming temperatures, extreme weather events and other shifts. Responding to these changes is leading to action—actions that in many cases are distinctly Alaskan.

For instance, an approach to renewable energy in Kodiak has drawn on local resources to design a transformative approach to generating nearly 100% renewable energy—replacing polluting fossil fuel each and every year. In Juneau and several rural Southeast communities where fish-friendly hydropower produces most local electricity, homeowners are turning to efficient electric air source heat pumps to heat their homes—a proven way to reduce families’ energy costs.

In a state ranking sixth in petroleum production—after Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Colorado but ahead of California—clean energy still makes up a major part of our energy mix: Communities across our state have been thinking ahead—and now a third of Alaska’s electricity generation comes from clean and reliable renewables. And there's more to come.

Reports

Alongside communities, we’re harnessing the power of scientific inquiry to clear obstacles and find practical solutions to the problems caused by climate change in Alaska.

  • Cover of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage in Alaska report.

    CCUS in Alaska

    This memo examines carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) through a high-level technical and governance framework and summarizes various considerations, risks, and case studies to provide a framework for understanding CCUS in Alaska.

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  • Energy Financing in Alaska

    As Alaska focuses on energy diversification, green banks show promise as an important tool to help overcome financing challenges many Alaska energy projects face.

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  • Resilient Communities

    This briefing paper summarizes the opportunity for investment in community infrastructure in rural Alaska.

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  • Resilient Homes

    Transitioning all forms of infrastructure, including energy production, transportation, housing, and community facilities, and increasing energy efficiency will be necessary to address the impacts of climate change.

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  • Natural Climate Solutions in Alaska

    While the threats are sobering, Alaska also has unique assets and opportunities in the fight against global climate change. As the world responds to problems caused by climate change, Alaska is well positioned for opportunity.

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  • Alaska's Renewable Energy Economy

    Recent decades have seen a steady march of renewable energy infrastructure installed across Alaska’s more than 150 energy grids.

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Alaska’s Big-Time Climate Opportunity

Just as Alaska’s ingenuity has built safe and clean energy to end the local dependency on fossil energy, Alaska’s healthy lands and forests also hold great promise.

If we don’t protect and restore nature, we lose out on a proven way to avoid the worst effects of climate change and safeguard Alaska ways of life.

Thus, natural climate solutions—all of which spring from the power of trees and other plants to take carbon dioxide out of the air, through the same photosynthesis described in basic science textbooks.

Protecting, managing and restoring nature—think forests, wetlands and peatlands—all work together to store heat-trapping carbon pollution from dirty sources of energy. And Alaska’s lands possess an astonishing and powerful capability—more than 50% of the nation’s total natural carbon storage capacity.

A landmark study led by TNC in 2017 shows that protecting nature, along with good land and forest management, can provide up to one-third of the emissions reductions necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change, like even more severe wildfires, storms, landslides and warmer salmon streams.