The following post is from Stephanie Hernandez, Communications Intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.
The recent report that shows Minnesota’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions fell three percent from 2005 to 2010 is great news. Like many parts of the world, Minnesota’s climate has been affected by climate change and the news of reduced carbon pollution shines a light on future opportunities to reduce emissions even more. A three percent reduction is no small achievement, but recent testimony by local scientists on the changes we’re seeing in local weather demonstrate that there’s much more to be done.
We can see evidence of the changing weather locally in events like the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, which for a second year in a row faces the chance of postponement or cancellation due to insufficient snow. Recent testimony at the Minnesota State House of Representatives hearings, provided by University of Minnesota scientists, echoed troubling evidence of weather changes we’re seeing across the country. The U.S. Global Change Research Project reported earlier this month that “the American Midwest could see another 4.9-degree increase in average temperatures by midcentury.” An increased temperature — in addition to the 3-degree increase already seen in Minnesota over the last 30 years — can only mean more storms and unpredictable weather.
With this in mind, there is a push for legislators to work towards policies that do even more to address climate change. Minnesota is already a leader in renewable energy — passing a Renewable Electricity Standard that was signed by then-Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty — as well as energy efficiency and renewable fuels. Due to these efforts, electricity production and transportation led to declines in utility emissions- dropping 13 percent —and transportation emissions — dropping 10 percent. Where there’s a concerted effort to address climate change, we are seeing results. The real question is where we can capitalize on opportunities to reduce emissions even more in the future.
One of the unintended consequences of the economic recession and slowing manufacturing production was a drop in emissions. Now that industrial production is picking back up again, we’ll need to find a new way to cut back on emissions.
David Thornton, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, stated about emissions “We’re not sure about where it’s going to stabilize. Emissions from transportation are likely to continue to fall as automakers work toward raising the current mandated average fuel efficiency from 29 miles per gallon to 54.5 in 2025.”
Without a doubt, Minnesota’s drop in greenhouse gas emissions is a crucial indicator that emission reduction is a realistic possibility. Minnesotans should continue to lead the way towards greener climate and energy efficiency. And, if their past efforts are any indication of future performance, they will.