In 2007, Homer, Alaska was selected to pilot the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability Climate Resilient Communities program. This program works with local governments to catalog greenhouse gas emissions and to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies. In December 2007 Homer released the Climate Action Plan. The plan identifies Homer’s vulnerabilities to climate change and suggests strategies to enhance its resilience such as encouraging local economic self-reliance, increasing fire fighting capacity, and protecting and restoring wetlands. To fund these activities, Homer will create a Sustainability Fund and obtain revenue from grants, taxes, and other innovative programs.
In January 2007, Resolution 06-141(A) was passed by the City Council to establish a local Global Warming Task Force. In March 2007, Homer joined 700+ other cities as a signatory to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. Homer was selected by ICLEI to pilot its Climate Resilient Communities program, designed to help communities adapt to and prepare for climate change.
To identify key threats to Homer, climate model projections and scientific findings were extrapolated and applied at a more local level. Key impacts of climate change to Homer may include rising sea levels, reduced health of fisheries resources, increased evaporation and transpiration of freshwater supplies, changes in storm frequency and intensity, and increased fires if the health of the surrounding forest is compromised by spruce bark beetle infestations.
The Homer, Alaska Climate Action Plan was developed in collaboration with the ICLEI Climate Resilient Communities program. This program helps local governments design tools to assess vulnerabilities, prioritize actions, and adapt communities to the impacts associated with climate change.
To initiate the Homer Climate Action Plan, greenhouse gas emissions were inventoried using the Clean Air and Climate Protection software. Future emissions targets were set to reduce Homer’s carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020 as compared to 2000 levels. Mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were identified, ranging from increased dependence on renewable energy sources to altered human behaviors.
Developing adaptation measures is complementary to mitigation efforts. The City of Homer identified multiple actions that will enhance the resilience of their community. Some of these include:
- Encourage local economic self-reliance, sustainable businesses, and climate awareness curriculum in local schools;
- Anticipate population growth and plan accordingly when making zoning and infrastructure decisions;
- Inventory the stormwater runoff system and identify areas vulnerable to sea level rise;
- Increase the community’s firefighting capacity;
- Protect and restore wetlands to increase water storage capacity;
- Restrict development along eroding shorelines; and
- Consider the effects of climate change in all long-term plans.
To implement the Climate Action Plan, Homer plans to create a Sustainability Fund to support mitigation and adaptation efforts. Possible sources of revenue for the fund include grants, a Climate Action Tax (modeled after the Climate Action Plan in Boulder, Colorado), a fuel tax, parking fees, and other innovative sources.
Near-term, priority tasks include:
- Energy audits for all City buildings;
- Investigation of renewable energy resources;
- Upgrading of the City’s vehicle fleet;
- Developing programs that have incentives associated with reduced carbon use; and
- Preparing and submitting grants to further the City’s efforts.
Feifel, K. (2010). Homer, Alaska Climate Action Plan [Case study on a project of the City of Homer and ICLEI]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/homer-alaska-climate-action-plan (Last updated March 2010)