On Monday December 2nd, the Minneapolis City Council Public Health, Environment and Community Engagement (PECE) Committee voted to declare a "climate emergency" (See Video Here). News of this Declaration happened to be very well-timed for the final round of 2020 City Budget hearings, as it prompted calls to council members to adequately fund the emergency response to the climate crisis.
Reason being: The initial 2020 sustainability budget to fulfill the city’s commitment to climate action was about $600,000 less than what had been in the 2019 budget.
Community Power Staff spoke at the December 4th Public Hearing on the City Budget asking the council to restore this funding that saves Minneapolis residents and businesses money and energy (at the 2 hour 10 minute mark and the 2 hour 53 minute mark in this video).
A Climate Emergency Requires an Emergency Response––to Increase Funding to Fight Climate Change
In the days leading up to the hearing, Community Power sent out emails to supporters requesting City Council raise raise the funds to be designated by the Energy Vision Advisory Committee and the Sustainability Office by $1 million from initial levels in the 2020 budget. This ask was in line with what the Energy Vision Advisory Committee requested in their letter to City Council.
The letter which recommended the city use these additional funds to boost the Green Cost Share program, test innovative energy efficiency programs that make it easy for low-income folks to cut energy bills (called inclusive financing), and build the clean energy workforce the city needs to face the climate challenge.
*** This effort did pay off in a partial win. At the December 6th Budget Markup hearing the Full City Council unanimously approved via a voice vote an amendment to invest an additional $350,000 in sustainability funding, with $25,000 reserved for the sustainable building policy. See full discussion among council members starting at the 3 Hour 10 Minute mark in this video and going until the 3 hour 23 Minute mark. ***
Recent Investment has paid off...
Two years ago, the city council voted to raise the franchise fee on electric and gas utility bills (by 0.5% of the total bills) to fund equitable climate work. The most notable example of this work is the city's Green Cost Share program, which has leveraged $28 million in private spending to reduce energy bills of Minneapolis residents and businesses by a projected $40 million. That's a 10:1 savings compared to the less than $4 million in city funds spent over the past several years.
...So Why Back Off in the Face of an Emergency?
The 2020 budget had initially proposed cutting its climate mitigation budget by nearly 20 percent, close to $600,000, by shifting pre-2017 money for the Sustainability Office and other clean energy initiatives into the bucket funded by the franchise fee increase. It cut funds for climate innovation by using them to pay for things the city was already funding. The funding going toward climate work currently is a drop in the bucket compared to the climate crisis we face and the scale of investment needed to shelter communities in the city from the worst harms ahead, and do so with equity at the center.
We need your help to make sure Minneapolis stays in the climate fight!
The Climate Emergency Declaration was an affirmation that the City will deepen its Climate Action work. It provides the rhetorical basis for the City Making some heavy lifts in the upcoming years. In order to make good on the promising words within the Declaration, the PECE Committee also approved 2 additional measures at the same hearing which provides us a path forward:
#1 A resolution for a sustainable building policy, plus
#2 The adoption of a social cost of Carbon that will help us more fully reflect the true public cost of fossil fuel consumption.
Click here to read a summary on all 3 proposals.
You can find your ward and CM's phone # here: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/maps/about_maps_ward-finder
And you can submit written comments (seen by full council) here – good to do additionally if you have a second: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/budget/budget-comments