Obama plans to take his trip beyond the streets of Anchorage and will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Alaska’s Arctic, a White House official said today.
“In Alaska, glaciers are melting. The hunting and fishing upon which generations have depended – for their way of life, and for their jobs – are threatened. Storm surges once held at bay now endanger entire villages. As Alaskan permafrost melts, some homes are even sinking into the ground. The state’s God-given natural treasures are at risk,” Obama said in the video address.
“When I’m there, I’ll meet with Americans who are dealing with climate change every day, and I’ll talk with other nations about how we can tackle this challenge together,” he said.
Obama will also travel throughout the state and “engage directly with Alaskans,” according to a White House official.
The White House has not yet confirmed the exact details of Obama’s trip to Alaska, but he does plan to travel outside of Anchorage, likely to places experiencing coastal impacts of climate change.
“Because what’s happening in Alaska isn’t just a preview of what will happen to the rest of us if we don’t take action. It’s our wake-up call. The alarm bells are ringing. And as long as I’m President, America will lead the world to meet this threat – before it’s too late,” Obama said in the video released Thursday.
The trip is part of Obama’s ongoing effort to craft a legacy on climate change issues. In December, Obama hopes to reach an international agreement on climate change with other United Nations countries.
Last month, the State Department said the upcoming Arctic conference in Anchorage would “highlight how a region vulnerable to climate change is experiencing and responding to these impacts, helping to drive political will for ambitious action” at United Nations climate change negotiations scheduled to take place in Paris this December.
Though Obama has said the state is on the front lines of climate change, Alaska is not at the front lines of the administration’s regulatory efforts.
The administration has angered many environmental activists by supporting oil drilling in the Arctic. And when the Environmental Protection Agency last week finalized new regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of power plants, Alaska’s power plants were excused from the requirements.
The week before he heads to Alaska, the president will address the National Clean Energy Summit in Nevada, a White House official said.
This story is posted on BarentsObserver as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.