We can promptly shovel our sidewalks. Not only is it the law in Duluth, it helps out those choosing to walk, regardless of whether their goal is lowering the 26% of Duluth’s greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by our transportation choices.
We can also compost food waste to help reduce the 22% of Duluth’s greenhouse gas emissions that come from food and agricultural choices.
And we can schedule an energy audit of our homes and then improve our insulation, heating systems, and more to lower the 19% of greenhouse gas emissions that come from inefficient buildings in Duluth, in particular our aging housing stock.
There are hundreds of things we can do individually to counter climate change. These are just three ideas from members of the grassroots committee that has been working to spread to the entire community the city’s ambitious commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. City leaders made that pledge in 2018, but it only applies to city operations and buildings. And that’s just 4% of all emissions in Duluth.
So it’s up to us to take similar additional action.
To help, the website for the Duluth Citizens’ Community Action Plan contains a multitude of ideas and strategies, broken into four easy-to-navigate categories — food and agriculture, transportation, buildings, and energy production — with loads of global context in each.
To help raise awareness, Duluth Citizens’ Community Action Plan committee members met with the News Tribune Editorial Board last week, hoping to piggyback on all the attention generated by the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, referred to also as COP26, because it was the 26th annual such UN conference. It opened Oct. 31 and wrapped up Friday in Glasgow, Scotland.
“There are ways for people to just jump in and get involved with things that are already happening,” said committee member Lora Wedge, chief operating officer at Ecolibrium3, the nonprofit that has taken a lead role in the Duluth Citizens’ Climate Action Plan. “It’s going to take all of us working together. … It’s going to take all of us figuring out which piece we can work on and taking action.”
“This plan is really meant to give lots of different opportunities for people to engage wherever they’re at and to take that, whatever it is, as the next step forward,” said Ecolibrium3 CEO Jodi Slick.
“When we look at this plan and what the options are, we have a chance right now to continue to be on the leading edge of some of these conversations and actually create projects and programs and opportunities that will not only benefit our region but can expand equity,” Slick further said. “This transition is going to be happening. We can look at other countries. They’re already saying that by 2025 we aren’t going to be producing any gas-powered vehicles. Lots of those decisions are happening globally and we have a chance to lead locally and tap resources to help us lead.
“Or we can follow,” she said, “to the detriment of our community from an equity point of view, an economic point of view, and an environmental point of view.”
In April, the Duluth City Council added urgency to its greenhouse gas emissions-reduction pledge, which had been part of the Imagine Duluth 2035 Comprehensive Plan, by declaring a climate emergency in the city.
To be part of responding to that emergency, start at ecolibrium3.org/duluthclimateaction/. There are hundreds of ideas there, from growing your own food to caulking around drafty windows. We could even consider not complaining so much about bike lanes. All our seemingly small individual efforts are needed and can add up quickly.