It’s going to take a whole lot more than a Duluth City Council resolution to combat climate change, and 2nd District Councilor Joel Sipress is among the first to acknowledge that.
Yet, Sipress was one of four councilors to announce Thursday afternoon their intentions to bring forward a resolution declaring a local climate emergency.
“We are here today to announce a call to action,” he said at a news conference alongside councilors Roz Randorf, Arik Forsman and Gary Anderson.
If passed, the resolution calls on city administration to develop a climate action work plan that Sipress said “will lay out the bold steps Duluth will take to combat climate change and meet the challenge.”
The action plan would need to be completed by no later than Dec. 31, 2021.
“It would lay out concrete action steps across all city areas, steps that would lead to concrete results to address both emissions and climate resiliency,” Sipress said.
He said the resolution directs the city to examine and make improvements in its planning and economic policies, in its role as a utility provider, in its stormwater infrastructure and in its transportation policies.
Randorf said the climate emergency declaration “outlines our commitment to support local efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the decades ahead for Duluth.”
“I believe as a policymaker that clean air and clean water is a fundamental right,” she said.
At large Councilor Forsman noted Lakewalk and shoreline erosion as examples of how "climate change is already impacting our city in very real and monetary ways."
“As a coastal community on a hill, we must plan and adapt for the future effects of climate change to protect our city infrastructure and our taxpayer investments,” he said.
Anderson said the resolution in many ways springs from the calls of constituents.
“I’m here today because the citizens of Duluth have been pushing myself and my colleagues to bring a resolution like this forward. We live in a community that is vibrant and alive. And people are aware that we are in a time of transition, and that we are in a time of urgency when it comes to addressing climate change,” he said.
Sipress said Mayor Emily Larson has expressed support for the resolution.
If councilors declare a climate emergency, he said Duluth will join a movement that’s already been taken up by more than 100 municipalities, including Minneapolis, and 14 nations, including all members of the European Union.
“I don’t believe that anybody believes that the city government of Duluth, alone, can meet this challenge. But the city can play its part, and it can also provide leadership to the community,” he said.
This article was updated at 9:38 p.m. on April 1 to include Minneapolis as a city that has passed a climate emergency resolution. It was originally posted at 6:44 p.m.