If We Want a Healthier Low Carbon Future …
It’s Time to Transition Twin Cities
Let’s Look at What We Can Do with the Energy We Use for Transportation, Food and Daily Activities
As households and communities, our daily activities and our purchasing decisions have a bigger carbon footprint than we may know. When we understand our impact better, we can begin to make better decisions to reduce Minnesota greenhouse gas emissions to ensure a better future for ourselves and our children. Where do we begin? That’s what the Transition Twin Cities website is all about.
People in Transition Town groups often start by learning more about their “carbon footprint” (a measure of the Minnesota greenhouse gas emissions we are directly or indirectly responsible for producing with our day-to-day activities1).
Minnesota Greenhouse Gas Emissions
This graph (from the MPCA) shows the source of Minnesota greenhouse gas emissions. Our numbers are different from national numbers in some ways, and similar in others. (These numbers change from year to year so this is a snapshot of emissions at the time this data was released.)
- Agriculture is only 9% of greenhouse gas emissions nationally, but it leads the list in Minnesota. Decisions we make around food and food waste can have an impact; so can our investments in responsible farmers and soil improvement projects, and support for forest and prairie restoration. Agriculture and land use can actually help reduce our carbon footprint!
- Transportation is the largest source of emissions nationally, with most of that greenhouse gas pollution coming from cars and light-duty trucks. Don’t forget flying! That’s 3% of ALL greenhouse gas emissions globally.
- Electricity production is just behind transportation in Minnesota greenhouse gas emissions; the same nationally. We are getting greener as our major utility company begins to close its coal-burning plants and switch to natural gas. But natural gas is also a fossil fuel. Drilling for it and burning it has a carbon footprint. Electricity in our homes takes 38.5% of the energy utility companies produce. We have some control over that part of our energy use. And as employees or members of faith communities, we can extend our influence to encourage those places to work to reduce their energy use.
- Industrial and commercial emissions are impacted by what and how we buy and how much we waste. We may be able to shift the business environment by asking questions and suggesting solutions in our workplaces to enable a switch to clean energy and lower-energy ways to produce products. As a consumer, we can a) limit what we buy, b) tell our favorite companies to expect them to help us reach global greenhouse gas emissions goals, and/or c) participate in shareholder activism to push carbon-reduction practices forward in the companies where we have invested our money.
Want to Get Started on a Personal or Community Action Plan?
The Transition Twin Cities website describes practical actions that individuals, groups, and communities can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Many of the examples provided on these pages come from Transition Town groups in Minnesota and other places in the U.S. but you can also find neighborhood organizations, green teams, and creation care teams who are taking positive, practical action.
It’s not important what your group is called; it’s important that people are taking action. When you do, you may find that you save money, breathe cleaner air, eat better food, and make new friends. You will also be better prepared, more resilient, and more connected to your community. That’s something we will all need as we face increasingly severe weather challenges – and now possible coronavirus exposure – ahead.