Climate Change Policy

Climate change is a real issue that the Minneapolis Park Board has a great opportunity to have a hand in achieving the city’s and international climate action goals. I may identify as non-binary, but climate change is a binary issue. We really only have one option: to act and to act now. 

I believe that the Park Board must get serious about its role in helping achieve the city’s Climate Action Goals and preserve our resources for future generations, especially in this current political climate. Minneapolis has pledged to reduce its city wide emissions 30% by 2025, and I will make sure that we meet or exceed those goals. 
As the main founder of the park board, Theodore Wirth believed that the parks were for all of us – now and for the future. With 4,900 acres of land and water – which is 15% of Minneapolis – we are able and have to affect real change. We must actively work to build carbon-negative parks. Did you know the average household carbon footprint for the Minneapolis zip code of 55406 is 45.6 metric tons of carbon per year? For a comparison, the average per person in the US is 22 metric tons of carbon per year. 

Essentially, we need to decrease our carbon footprint while increasing our carbon sequestration handprint. 

Carbon sequestration is a way to remove or divert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow global warming through greenhouse gases. We can do this in Minneapolis specifically by adding more trees, preserving our wetlands, and restoring green space in our parks.

We need to start small and we need everyone’s hand in reducing or completely eliminating our footprint on this earth. Carbon sequestration is only one piece of the puzzle, and we will not achieve our goals if we focus on natural systems alone. Most importantly,  we need to view human systems as natural systems. We are limiting our understanding by not including human ecology – how do we best interact with the environment? We can’t do this as individuals, like neoliberalism wants you to believe. Therefore, we must look for integrated solutions together that include the needs of people and the environment.  

How can we get a hand on global warming?

  • We will reduce carbon footprints for transportation by understanding how our parks can be part of creating healthy, walkable neighborhoods. Every neighborhood, every child, deserves a great park where they can plant their roots and grow. 
  • Taking on the municipal Organics Recycling program, which would provide the resources to build soil by composting at scale. We can bring this compost back into the parks and invest it in sustainable food sources that we can provide for all to enjoy.
  • We can improve air quality by phasing out small engine uses (leaf blowers, mowers, ATVs) and replacing these with an electric fleet ultimately powered by electricity generated sustainably on-site. My Triangle Improvement Plan reimagines the ecology and maintenance of our city’s 39 triangles, circle, and oval away from gasoline-intensive turf towards pollinators, rain gardens, and community orchards.
  • Finally, and most importantly, we must stop using pesticides in the parks. Pesticides reduce our bee population and are nonessential to providing a healthy ecosystem. The UN has admitted that excessive use of pesticides is very to dangerous for human health and the environment. As these are our parks where our children, pets, and loved ones play, we should not and will not expose them to unnecessary hazards.

Here is where we can start, hand in hand. We can dedicate more of our empty green space not only to in our parks but in our backyards, offices, schools, bus stops – any place you can think of! - to natural wildflowers to sequester more carbon. Did you know that this is one of the most natural ways to add more carbon into the atmosphere? In addition, we are beautifying the parks and keeping your children safe.

Request your wildflowers now! You can help decrease your carbon footprint in your own backyard. You can plant them in the fall: wait until the last killing frost, get them just under the soil, and then they will stay dormant until the spring. I plan to restore wildflowers and natural plants in all of the city’s parks. You can too! 

These carbon handprint actions will lower our carbon footprint to preserve the parks’ beauty for decades to come. We can only do this together.

But most importantly, don’t forget to vote November 7th and rank me as your first choice for an integrated solution for us. I – and the planet – can only do this with your help.

 

For more information, please visit the following sites: 

Calculate your zip code’s carbon footprint: http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps
Calculate your carbon footprint (EPA): https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/ 
City of Minneapolis Climate Action Plan: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/climate-action-goals/index.htm
Sundquist, E.; Burris, R; Faulkner, S.; Gleason, R; Harden, J.; Kharaka, Y.; Tieszen, L.; Waldrop, M; (2008). USGS Carbon Sequestration to Mitigate Climate Change. Retrieved from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3097/pdf/CarbonFS.pdf. 
Elver, H. And Tuncak, B. (2017). Pesticides are “Global Human Rights Concern”, say UN experts urging new treaty. Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21306&LangID=E