Municipal Action on Climate Change
Sitka’s local abundance of hydropower and small road system make it an ideal community to undertake municipal and community-wide decarbonization efforts. The Sitka Conservation Society supports this through advocacy on policies and projects, participating in advisory bodies and forums that inform Sitka’s energy transition, operating of a Sitka Carbon Offset Fund, and sharing information and learnings region-wide to assist climate efforts in other communities.
Sitka Conservation Society has focused on encouraging the municipality to invest in climate action by advocating for the creation of a municipal climate action task force and then a Sustainability Commission, widespread adoption of electric-powered air-source heat pumps on behalf of individuals and businesses, and incorporation of climate concerns into capital projects and long-range planning efforts. These efforts date back prior to 2010, when the first municipal Climate Action Task Force was assembled and wrote a climate action plan. SCS staff and board served on the task force, and data gathering was also supported by a joint internship between the City of Sitka and Sitka Conservation Society. We continued to work with the City to advance clean energy initiatives and use, and in 2019, SCS helped organize community support for a climate emergency declaration and reinstatement of the Climate Action Task Force by collaborating with local high school students that created the advocacy group Youth for Sustainable Futures.
After the resolution successfully passed in 2020, SCS staff were appointed to the Climate Action Task Force, while we continued to support local youth engagement and skills development through internships and advocacy opportunities. The Climate Action Task Force catalyzed additional municipal investment in climate change through the passage of a resolution that stated the municipality’s intention to decarbonize municipal operations by 2030, while supporting the ability of the broader community to also undertake these measures by crafting policy, incentives, and infrastructure investments that can help the community meet these goals. The Climate Action Task Force was disbanded in 2022 with the creation of a permanent Sustainability Commission with a designated staff position tasked with addressing issues of economic, ecological, and social sustainability across the community, including energy independence, tourism, and municipal solid waste. Sitka Conservation Society continues to advocate for climate action and energy transitions through this body, as well as helping other communities catalyze similar action and advocate for broad federal investments and initiatives to help Southeast Alaska mitigate and adapt to climate change.
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