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Editorial Roundup: Local action needed on climate change initiatives

The concept of thinking globally while acting locally is as necessary in slowing the effects of climate change as it is with any other major challenge.

That means we individually make good choices to do things we can practically afford to do. But increasingly cities are making climate change a priority.

The Duluth City Council recently passed a “climate emergency” declaration. As much as any city, Duluth has seen the damage brought on by climate change and knows worse is to come. The city’s famed waterfront boardwalk has been repeatedly destroyed by rising lake levels and more violent storms, and rising temperatures are disrupting the ecosystem.

The declaration doesn’t bring any immediate regulations or new funding sources but starts a process of identifying concrete steps the city can take to make a practical difference. Last year the city hired its first sustainability officer, who will lead the creation of a climate change plan.

Increasingly cities are adopting specific goals, programs and funding streams to address climate change.

Denver, Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon, and other cities have ensured steady revenue sources to help fund projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Their approaches differ — a local sales tax, a corporate tax, a tax on electrical consumption — but all provide the ongoing funds needed to make sure spending on climate change projects aren’t sidelined by the other demands on municipal budgets.

When it comes to funding large-scale, capital-intensive projects, many cities have adopted the use of climate bonds.

Cities have been installing renewable energy systems on their buildings, implementing strategic energy efficiency initiatives for all municipal property, improving public transportation and taking other steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some cities are requiring that new commercial buildings will need to include either a green roof or solar panels and are required to meet specific energy efficiency standards.

With a president who has returned a sense of urgency to the issue of climate change, big, nationally led initiatives can happen. As important as that is, making climate change a central issue on the state and local levels is just as important.

City officials and residents are in the best position to know what specific actions they can take to lower their carbon footprint, without having to harm economic development.

— Mankato Free Press, May 11

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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