This past October, the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a sobering report: the world has just 12 years to get control of global greenhouse gas emissions, or face the worst impacts of climate change. The report concluded with a strong call-to-action: “’There is no documented historic precedent’ for the sweeping change to energy, transportation and other systems required to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
There are encouraging signs that sweeping change could finally be coming. Late last year, Xcel Energy – Minnesota’s largest electric utility – publicly committed to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Now, Minnesota policymakers are stepping up as well. Groundbreaking legislation introduced today by Senator Nick Frentz (DFL – Mankato) and Representative Jamie Long (DFL – Minneapolis) would set Minnesota on a path to transform our state’s energy system into one that is carbon free. The bill, SF850/HF700 would establish an 80 percent renewable energy standard by 2035 for Minnesota, with a further goal of reaching 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2050. Under the bill, Xcel Energy would have a stretch goal of 85 percent renewable energy by 2035.
Studies have repeatedly found that aggressive transformation of our energy system is both technologically and financially feasible. A study by GridLab, with funding from the McKnight Foundation, found that Minnesota could cost effectively generate 91% of electricity from carbon free sources of electricity.
Our science policy director, J. Drake Hamilton, who testified at the hearing released the following in response: “We applaud this bold proposal. We have 12 years to get ahead of the climate crisis, and this is the kind of leadership Minnesota needs to show.”
Today’s bill announcement sends a strong signal that Minnesota leaders are continuing to work toward meeting the historic challenge presented by climate change. Fresh Energy stands enthusiastically ready to support this critical step for Minnesota, and we are committed to working with utilities and stakeholders to ensure we build a clean energy future that works for all Minnesotans.
We congratulate Senator Frentz and Representative Long on their ambitious vision for our state’s future.