Looking out the window at the bright green grass of Thanksgiving of 2021 in Stillwater, it’s evident climate change is upon us. The news from the international climate summit showed progress, although not as fast as we need. The Good News: 90% of the world now has “net-zero” commitments, compared to 30% two years ago. Many more countries have committed to phase out and stop financing coal. 130 countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030, covering 90% of the world’s forests. And 100+ countries agree to cut methane 30% by 2030, according to Ellen Anderson, climate director for Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.
Sustainable Stillwater MN has made climate action planning and mitigation our priority for 2022. Like Stillwater, all Minnesota cities need to move full speed ahead to improve our chances of averting the worst effects of climate change. But where do we start? Help is needed from the state. Here are some suggestions from the 100% Campaign. Talk to your state legislators to:
1. Create a Climate Resilient Communities Division within the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency so that cities can locate data, expertise, funding opportunities, and technical assistance on climate resilience and adaptation. This support is needed by local governments like Stillwater to do their own climate resilience and adaptation planning.
2. Create ongoing “Resilient Communities Grants” and funding programs that expand MPCA’s existing Environmental Assistance grants to cities, counties, school districts, and public colleges and universities for greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation planning.
3. Continue identifying Minnesota’s climate vulnerabilities, including long-term public health risks, identifying gaps in local emergency preparedness systems, evaluating systemic financial risks, and supporting local governments who choose to do similar analyses of their own.
4. Create climate resilience training and certification programs: Many Minnesotans do the work of keeping our state safe and healthy. We have an opportunity now to prepare more of these workers as well as local elected leaders for future crises by training them on disaster preparedness and climate resilience. The State of Minnesota should offer a climate resilience training and certification program for Minnesota’s local elected officials, first responders, public employees, essential workers, disaster recovery workforce, and their unions.
5. Reduce greenhouse gasses: Climate resilience requires immediate and major reduction of carbon emissions to avoid the worst climate change impacts from electricity production, construction, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and waste. The state and federal government must take the lead. Many provisions to do this are in the “Build Back Better” bill awaiting a Senate vote.
With the right leadership and everyone’s willingness to roll up their sleeves, we can avert the worst of climate change and save our children’s future. There is no higher priority.
Sustainable Stillwater MN is a 501c3 nonprofit whose volunteers aim to make our city greener, more sustainable, and resilient.