Is the tide turning on climate action?

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Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

This week, President Joe Biden announced a pledge for the United States to cut our climate pollution emissions by at least 50% of 2005 levels by the end of this decade at a virtual climate summit with world leaders. At the summit, other large nations like Russia and China made their own pledges, while business and labor groups showed their support for bold climate action.

This is a time when bold commitments are necessary, and we applaud President Biden’s commitment and plans to steer us toward securing a stable climate. And we thank all the people and organizations across the nation and world who have been fighting every day for climate action.

It’s heartening to see that in so many sectors, we are seeing support for this all-important goal. A coal miner’s union endorsed a just transition to clean energy. Auto manufacturers are setting faster and faster goals for going all-electric. Countries and states, including our neighbor Wisconsin, are preparing massive tree planting efforts to soak up carbon and restore habitat.

Having strong climate leadership at our highest levels of government is a hopeful sign. What we do to confront the climate crisis everywhere matters. Now it’s time for Minnesota to do our part. We have an economy larger than most countries, almost 90,000 square miles of land and water, and a population approaching 6 million people. A solid majority of Minnesotans want bold climate action, and it’s time to make it happen.

How do we get there? We have to address all major sources of climate pollution simultaneously. While clean electricity is an important and very visible piece, electricity only accounts for about a quarter of our emissions. We also need to tackle sources that are as large or larger, including transportation, agriculture, and buildings.

There are bills moving in the Minnesota Legislature that would address these problems and advance environmental justice in our state. The House Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus bill would support reforestation and long-term agricultural practices that store carbon in the soil. The House Climate and Energy Omnibus bill would set a goal of 45% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030, and of 100% clean electricity in Minnesota by 2040. These provisions and others should be passed by the House and Senate so that Minnesota can fully get to work on reshaping our economy.

We also need Governor Walz to put his full authority behind these climate solutions. As we wrote last week, the recent climate report card for the Governor released by 18 organizations shows that on key climate and environmental justice issues like Line 3, farming, and transit investments, the Governor has not shown the kind of leadership we need. But he has time to get his grades back up, and we’re asking for Minnesotans to call him to ask for bolder action in the second half of his term. The report card includes doable steps that Governor Walz can take to push us towards the Biden climate targets.

For Minnesota to do our part, we need all hands on deck – government, workers, businesses, schools, and scientists. We have a fighting chance to create the sustainable future we want. Let’s keep going.

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