Minnesota Needs A Climate Champion

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About the grades

Having passed the halfway point of Governor Walz’s term, the Midterm Climate Report Card is a tool to inform Minnesotans about how the Walz administration is responding to the climate crisis.  

While Minnesota has often been a leader on protecting our natural environment, we are not on track to do our share and reduce our climate emissions from Minnesota. The report card is meant to help Minnesotans understand whether the Governor is leading on the bold action and transformative solutions we need.

Please take action to demand real climate action from Governor Walz and all your elected officials.

The report card was researched and written by a coalition of organizations: Clean Water Action, COPAL, CTUL, Duluth Youth Climate Justice, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Land Stewardship Project, League of Women Voters, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, MN350, Ojibwes for Responsible Government, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, TakeAction, and Water Legacy.

The subjects of the report card are based around the major sources of climate pollution from Minnesota. A common misperception is that if we reduce pollution from the electricity sector, we can solve climate change. Moving from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy like wind and solar is incredibly important, but it’s not the whole picture. In reality the greenhouse gases produced in Minnesota come from multiple sectors of our economy, so we must have multiple solutions that correspond to those pollution sources

This midterm report card includes two subjects in the transportation sector, two in electricity, one in agriculture, one in forestry and one that encompasses pollution from both residential and industrial buildings.

For Minnesota to do its share, action is needed to move forward in all these sectors. In addition, we have a remedial subject, which is based on not going backward by investing in fossil fuel infrastructure. Finally, the last subject is based on the need for the state to set economy-wide, multi-sector goals as would be achieved by passing the Next Generation Climate Act. Minnesota must lead by example in fully recognizing the need for a multi-sector approach and planning accordingly.To appreciate this challenge on a global scale, Project Drawdown is a useful resource.

Instead of giving Governor Walz a single grade, we focused on how successfully he’s doing in individual sectors..  The climate crisis is a multi-sector challenge, which requires multi-sector solutions.

Another reason to not provide an overall grade or GPA is that would imply that an average passing grade is sufficient. It’s not. To address the climate crisis, real action in all these categories is required. The climate needs a Governor who gets straight A’s. 

The bulk of the work in developing this report card was in researching what real climate action is needed, which has been the ongoing work of multiple organizations.  We then compared that with the actions (or inactions) of the Walz Administration.  Two additional guidelines:

  • Grade on Minnesota, not the world. This report card recognizes that Minnesota cannot solve a global problem alone. But our state must at least do its fair share by addressing the climate pollution we are producing right here in Minnesota. We are looking to our Governor to lead.
  • Grade the Governor on his actions, not others’ reactions. Many needed changes will require cooperation from the Legislature, but these grades are based on the governor’s actions — what he has proposed or what his agencies have done. They are not based on reactions, actions, or inaction taken by the state Senate.

Yes, the anti-environment majority in the state Senate is currently the largest obstacle to climate action in Minnesota. But we don’t have to choose between holding both the state Senate and the Walz administration accountable. The organizations that developed this report card regularly communicate how even small actions to address the climate crisis are blocked by Senate leadership.  

Unlike the majority of senators, who openly downplay the climate crisis or openly oppose serious climate action, Governor Walz ran on climate action.  He has even asked us to hold him to a high standard. Most Minnesotans who care deeply about climate action already know about the Senate’s opposition to climate action. But some of those same Minnesotans may not know that Governor Walz is not acting on climate as we would expect based on his public statements.

We provide these grades with the intention of urging the Governor to give the climate crisis the attention it needs and which he campaigned on. And we will continue to push all state leaders to prioritize climate action.

Yes, we would. And we want to. We’ve recommended a comprehensive set of actions Governor Walz  could take, which you can read by clicking on each of the grades. He can get started immediately in the current legislative session by supporting specific pieces of legislation that HE is not yet supporting, or has NOT YET included funding for in his proposed budget. But our grades also include many more recommended actions he could implement through his agencies or develop for the 2022 legislative session.   

We are grading Governor Walz solely on his actions that are in his control.  They are not based on reactions, actions (or inactions) of the state Senate. Regardless of the Senate’s willingness to cooperate, Governor Walz can demonstrate a serious commitment to climate action and raise his grades.

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