ST. PAUL — After facing roadblocks in the divided Minnesota Legislature, Gov. Tim Walz turned to members of a state advisory group to come up with steps that could help address climate change.
The Governor's Advisory Council on Climate Change met for the first time Monday, Nov. 30, and participants from a broad array of professional backgrounds set about the work of recommending policies that could reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions in the next three decades.
Walz in 2019 established the subcabinet on climate change in an effort to meet greenhouse gas emissions the state set in 2007 and to achieve a 100% clean energy goal by 2050. The state fell short of goals laid out in the 2007 legislation for 2015 and isn't on track to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2025, in terms of 2005 levels.
Walz and other council members on Monday said they were hopeful that ideas from farmers, doctors, energy company leaders and others on the panel could help the state update laws and policies that reduce carbon emissions. The council is set to inform Walz and his climate change subcabinet.
"Now is the time, if we don't deal with it now, it's only going to become more difficult," Walz said. "We're going to try to operationalize as many things as we can find consensus around and it's hard to find consensus, I know that but we want to use the product that's being produced from this group."
Walz last year pushed legislation aimed at transitioning energy production in the state exclusively to clean sources like solar and wind by 2050, but that came up short in the divided Statehouse. And a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency proposal to change state car emission standards to decrease the state's carbon footprint also faced substantial scrutiny from Republican lawmakers and auto dealers last year.
Under the proposal, car manufacturers would be required to sell low-emission vehicles in Minnesota and to offer more electric vehicles. The state is set to open a public comment period for the rule change after it files a notice of intent to adopt the change.
MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop, who also leads the subcabinet, the 15-member council could share lessons they'd learned from other fields to help Minnesota adapt its policies.
"It's a challenge in front of us, it's a great one but we've seen our public sector, our universities, our private sector, and our communities and tribal governments all very committed to this and sometimes moving sometimes faster than state government," Bishop said. "We need your help to get our Minnesota climate back on track."