Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Friday, December 05, 2014

Climate Action Champion

This week, the White House made public that the City of Minneapolis has won designation as a “Climate Action Champion.”  We are one of sixteen cities and counties to be given this designation, along with San Francisco, Seattle, and others.

This is somewhat ironic, given that we’re in the middle of a rather public debate about whether we want to fully fund the commitments we’ve made to climate action.  I’m hoping that this will help remind my colleagues of the importance of the Clean Energy Partnership – which was one of the key arguments we made in our successful application for this honor.  In order to retain our reputation for being a leader on climate policy, we have to continue to actually lead.

It’s also important to note that the work of the Partnership is not the limit of our work on climate change.  The Council has also adopted a set of short-term, two-year priorities for implementing the Climate Action Plan.  This is the existing work of our two-person Sustainability office.

This Climate Action Champion recognition does not come with direct funding attached.  It does come with an opportunity to seek federal grants from multiple agencies.  While there are not funds for City functions like staffing our end of the Clean Energy Partnership, there may be potential future funds that could help the City and utilities implement the programs the Partnership creates.  This makes it even more important that we fully support the work of the Partnership, because we can only seek funding for projects that we can develop.

From the City’s press release:

As part of President Obama’s strategy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the White House launched the Climate Action Champions competition in October to identify and recognize local climate leaders and to provide targeted federal support to help those communities reach their climate and energy goals.

This designation comes with some clear we will benefit from facilitated peer-to-peer learning and mentorship and targeted support from a range of federal programs. Furthermore, a coordinator will be provided to each Climate Action Champion to foster coordination and communication across the federal agencies, national organizations, and foundations in support of the champions. The coordinator will also assist efforts to raise awareness of funding and technical assistance opportunities that are available specifically for Climate Action Champions. Resources come from federal agencies including the Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Minneapolis won the designation because of its commitment to clean energy. The City and its electricity and natural gas utilities, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, have committed to a first-of-its-kind in the nation City-utility Clean Energy Partnership. The partnership will result in the City and utility companies collaborating in new ways to help Minneapolis achieve its climate and energy goals. These goals include making energy affordable and reliable for everyone while increasing energy efficiency, increasing renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases. The City of Minneapolis has also developed the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan, which includes greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050.

From deep droughts to fierce wildfires, severe storms to rising seas, communities across the United States are already grappling with the impacts of extreme weather and climate change. Faced with these new challenges, many cities, towns, counties, and tribes in every region of the country are stepping up to cut carbon pollution, deploy more clean energy, boost energy efficiency, and build resilience in their communities to climate impacts.

From creating climate-smart building codes to installing green infrastructure to setting targets for reducing energy consumption, the 16 local and tribal communities selected as Climate Action Champions have considered their climate vulnerabilities and taken decisive action to cut carbon pollution and build resilience.


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