White House names Minneapolis as climate leader

National leaders recognized the city’s goal of making major cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

by Anne Millerbernd

The White House recognized the city of Minneapolis on Wednesday for its recent environmentally friendly initiatives.

The city was named one of the nation’s 16 “Climate Action Champions,” a distinction for which it will receive peer-to-peer learning and mentorship, federal support and help in moving its environmental initiatives forward.

The White House recognized the city for its Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce Minneapolis greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent incrementally by the year 2050, according to a press release.

The release also highlighted the city’s partnership with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy to improve air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, known as the Clean Energy Partnership.

“We’re very excited,” said Stephanie Zawistowski, Mayor Betsy Hodges’ sustainability policy aide. “The fact that we’ve demonstrated this leadership on a national level is great for any city.”

Many details of the initiative have yet to be announced, said Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon.

The White House announced the competition, which was administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, earlier this fall. Minneapolis leaders thought their recent environmentally friendly plans made the city a good candidate, Zawistowski said.

Gordon said the University of Minnesota, which uses a lot of energy, could serve as a potential partner in future grant applications — especially considering its recent willingness to cut back on coal burning.

“There might even be some expertise at the University,” he said. “So if we were very interested in creating some kind of innovative sustainable community … the University might be able to help with that.”

Despite Wednesday’s announcement, Fossil Free Minnesota member and political science sophomore Noah Shavit-Lonstein said Minneapolis still has a long way to go. He cited the city’s dependence on fossil fuel as a fundamental issue.

“Climate change is a huge issue,” he said. “I think it should be a top priority for our government at many different levels because it’s something that will have a huge effect on the futures of people in the city, especially the young people who live in the city.”