Minnesota law does not reflect the current greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements laid out by climate scientists.
Current Minnesota law was enacted in 2007 with a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (of 2005 levels) by 2050. As a global community, we now know we must reduce our collective emissions by 50% by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050.
Why is this distinction critical?
Everything changes when we are trying to get to zero versus reducing emissions by 80%.
If we only needed to reduce our carbon footprint by 80%, it might be sufficient to invest in energy efficiency and cleaner forms of fossil fuels. In that scenario, perhaps we could move from coal to fossil gas or move from coal to partial capture of emissions from that coal. In that scenario, perhaps half-measures developed 20 years ago might still be relevant today.
But that scenario is not real.
We need to get to zero emissions, and those half-measures are dead-end pathways. They can make certain industries feel good (and maintain profits) through 2030, but then whole systems would still need to be reconstructed to go the rest of the way to net-zero emissions.
We are out of time for slow “bridges” to a clean energy future. We don’t have time to invest in dead-end pathways.
What Governor Walz has done:
- Established a Climate Subcabinet and an advisory council.
- Issued an Executive Order directing ‘‘state government [to] work across the enterprise in a coordinated approach to develop equitable strategies that will mitigate climate change and achieve greater resilience.” In response, the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is proposing changes to ensure that climate change is factored into environmental review of proposed new projects. The EQB is made up of nine of Gov. Walz’s appointed agency heads, as well as eight citizen members.
What Governor Walz should do:
- Establish a multi-sector, economy-wide goal of getting to net zero emissions. Gov. Walz should support and strongly push for the Next Generation Climate Act, HF 1428/ SF 1630, authored by Rep. Patty Acomb and Sen. Jen McEwen.
- Develop the blueprint with actionable steps and benchmarks for each sector of the economy and a timeline for achieving the overall goal.
- Ensure that our investments today build the foundation for our net-zero emission future.
More benefits for all Minnesotans:
Minnesotans deserve to live in healthy communities, have family-sustaining jobs, eat fresh food, have affordable and comfortable homes in walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, with clean transportation options, and community-owned solar and wind. This future is possible. We have many solutions to reduce climate pollution and fight racial and economic inequalities. If Gov. Walz creates a true multi-sector plan to combat climate change, we can begin moving toward this future.