Addressing climate change & business

On invitation from the Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, ACCAP played a prominent role leading the ‘Business in a Changing Climate’ track of the Juneau Business Innovation Summit-February 2020.

Based in the state capital, the summit hosted a diverse array of talks, work sessions, and experiences designed to foster relationships and inspire new perspectives. ACCAP lead, John Walsh, delivered the plenary talk “Business in a Changing Climate.” ACCAP Co-Director Sarah Trainor worked extensively with summit organizers to organize the climate change track, facilitate an “ask an expert ‘’ deep dive session, and lead an exercise to help businesses think about climate impacts and possible innovative responses.

Learning from one another

The Business Innovation Summit provided a venue for participants to learn from experts, as well as each other. The Summit was a success in raising awareness within the Juneau business community of the myriad of research and resources ongoing at the University of Alaska and the resources ACCAP has to offer. The response to the “ask the expert” deep dive session was overwhelmingly positive and we hope will foster more engagement and connections with business leaders and the economic sector in Southeast Alaska. We were invited to give subsequent talks but in-person engagement has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 situation. Overall this was a valuable relationship building experience and we intend to continue engaging future Summits and with participants we connected with during the conference.

Meet the Experts

Experts who participated during the Juneau Innovation Summit Deep Dive session on Business on a Changing Climate

The deep dive session featured experts from within ACCAP as well as other ACCAP partners including NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, the University of Alaska Southeast, and the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center.

Cultural Adaptation
Leads: Ken Weitzel and Raymond Paddock
Collaboration and building relationships are how to ‘fill the gaps’ and ultimately find success. Focus is shifting from planning to implementation strategies and taking action.

Local & Business Adaptation
Leads: Jim Powell and Tom Thornton
Collaborations between local government, NGOs, and business have developed a variety of innovations (first in the world) in energy conservation, and local governmental strategies to address climate change.

Landcover change & yellow-cedar die-off
Lead: Allison Bidlack
Yellow cedar is in decline but probably not in danger of extinction at this point and assisted migration and proactive land use planning can be used to adapt to and mitigate the decline and other landcover changes.

Carbon Markets
Lead: Steve Colt
Current estimates and research suggests that a carbon price, if high enough, could cut U.S. emissions by about half by 2035. Most current market prices are well below this price range. In the future, China will introduce national emissions trading system (ETS) , California will continue to reduce its overall emissions cap, and the Northeast US states will continue to engage in carbon markets and considering deeper engagement in the transportation sector.

Marine related issues
Leads: Jessica Cross, Franz Mueter, Ginny Eckert, & John Harley
Despite some declines in Chinook populations, warmer ocean conditions tend to favor salmon in Alaska and there is potential for populations to expand northward. In the Gulf of Alaska, sablefish appear to benefit from warmer ocean temperatures. In the Bering Sea, pollock and cod may decline because of changes to the food web associated with declining ice and warmer ocean temperatures, alternatively, they may be able to compensate by moving further North into cooler waters. Fishers should diversify rather than investing heavily in a single fishery as diverse portfolio provides greater resilience to change.

Weather/Climate
Leads: Rick Thoman, Brian Brettschneider, & John Walsh
Juneau does not have plans for dealing with a wildfire in the area. Following wildfire smoke in the summer of 2019, the impacts and challenges of wildfire in SE Alaska became a topic for future exploration. There is potential for planning for wildfire scenarios in the Juneau area.

Resources shared during the summit