Protesters, including some state lawmakers, demonstrated in favor of more aggressive action at the state level to combat climate change.
Dozens of protesters braved the cold Tuesday afternoon and gathered around the statue of William H. Seward in Courthouse Plaza in downtown Juneau to welcome state lawmakers to town, Doug Woodby of 350Juneau told the crowd.
“We’re here to let them know we expect significant climate legislation this year,” he said, mentioning a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, aimed at increasing energy efficiency in state buildings and use of clean energy. Senate Bill 17 includes a goal to have half of all energy used by state or state-funded facilities come from clean energy sources by 2026.
“We realize it’s a really tough sell in our state at this time,” Woodby said in an interview with the Empire. “That doesn’t stop us from advocating because we really are in a climate crisis.”
During the rally, Elaine Schroeder of 350Juneau claimed the world was moving away from fossil fuels, citing the previous day’s announcement the New York City pension fund would divest $4 billion away from fossil fuels.
“Now, I think it’s time for our Permanent Fund and our state pension fund to wake up and do the same,” Schroeder said.
The demonstration lasted an hour and featured multiple speakers and performers, some of whom recited environmentally themed poetry. State Reps. Sarah Hannan and Andi Story, both Juneau Democrats, attended the event but didn’t speak to the crowd.
350Juneau has repeatedly submitted letters to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation urging divestment from fossil fuels. The group held a rally last month that similarly happened to coincide with divestment news out of New York. In December, the New York state pension fund it was divesting its $226 billion from fossil fuels the same day 350Juneau delivered a letter to an APFC Board meeting.
Some lawmakers have been receptive to 350Juneau’s lobbying in the past, Woodby said, though none from the Republican side.
Woodby said 350Juneau and other activist organizations would be holding weekly rallies at the plaza every Friday at noon beginning Feb. 5, until the Legislature adjourns.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.