Minnesota firms step up on climate change

Published 6:29 am Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Star Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Curbing climate change is fast becoming a front-and-center issue for voters — but also for leaders of big businesses, who are starting to see both the upside to reforms and the considerable risk of delay.

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In a recent letter to Gov. Tim Walz and House and Senate leaders in both parties, some of Minnesota’s largest companies made clear that “climate change poses a material risk to our businesses, threatens the competitiveness and livelihoods of our supply chain and impacts the communities in which we operate.” The signers included General Mills, Cargill, Target, Best Buy, Aveda and Tennant Co., along with companies from outside Minnesota.

While not specifically endorsing Walz’s climate plan, which would move Minnesota to carbon-free electricity by 2050, a number of the companies are working toward similar goals.

General Mills reports in the letter that it recently achieved 100% renewable power for its U.S. operations and is working toward a 2050 goal for sustainable emissions. Best Buy has committed to carbon-neutrality by 2050. Cargill plans to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% by 2025, while Target is aiming for a 30% reduction by 2030. Tennant Co. notes that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions will make the company more competitive, rather than less, “while creating benefits for many of our stakeholders.”

Walz’s plan passed the House but hit a roadblock in the Senate. Combating climate change should not be a matter of political orthodoxy. It is a fight to preserve habitable conditions for the planet on which we all live. The science is settled, and the evidence that change is already upon us grows by the day.

Businesses look at the bottom line. As noted in the letter, a growing number have decided that taking action will “ensure prolonged profitability, reduce risk, safeguard the resilience of our supply chains and allow us to better meet the growing demands of our customers and investors.”

Minnesotans should be pleased that these companies and others have stepped forward. Strong, forward-looking civic engagement is what historically has pushed this state forward in so many areas.

Legislators now must find the will to do the same.