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Request for Committee Action

A briefing memo explaining the purpose, background, and impact of the requested action.
Declaration of a climate emergency (RCA-2019-01352)

City Coordinator's Office
To Committee(s)
# Committee Name Meeting Date
1 Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights, and Engagement Committee Dec 2, 2019
Lead Staff:
Kim W. Havey
Presented By:
Kim W. Havey and others
Action Item(s)
# File Type Subcategory Item Description
1 Resolution City Policy

Passage of Resolution declaring that there is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address the consequences and causes of climate change.

Ward / Neighborhood / Address
# Ward Neighborhood Address
1. All Wards
Background Analysis

Minneapolis has been experiencing some of the most significant impacts from climate change anywhere in North America. 2019 will go down as one of the wettest years in recorded history and the City of Minneapolis is forecast to average 30 days above 90 degrees and 30 fewer days annually below freezing within the next 50 years. These current weather events, long term trends and the City’s most recent Green House Gas emissions report showing an increase in emissions in 2018 all lead to the same conclusion. The City needs to scale its commitment to reducing GHG emissions.

Currently, more than 900 jurisdictions in 18 countries worldwide have taken the first step to scale their commitment bydeclaring a climate emergency. In June 2019, the US House of Representatives introduced a resolution with support of six US Presidential candidates, including Senator Klobuchar declaring a climate emergency. The City of Minneapolis Resolution declaring an emergency has been built off the US House of Representatives climate emergency resolution.

The goal of the declaration campaign is for governments to declare a climate emergency and mobilize society-wide resources at sufficient scale and speed to protect civilization, the economy, people, species, and ecosystems.

Key Climate Emergency Declaration Elements

• Building public awareness that we are in a climate emergency which threatens life as we know it. We can’t take appropriate action if we don’t recognize we are in an emergency.

• Helping governments declare a climate emergency as a public signal indicating that governments and society will be mobilized.

• Increasing climate mobilization to a sufficient scale and speed to protect everything we want to protect. War-time mobilization examples indicate how quickly and thoroughly ‘business-as-usual’ and ‘reform-as-usual’ can change when we rise to the challenge of dealing with an existential threat.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC with no or limited overshoot would imply global net CO2 emissions dropping to between 50% and 58% below 2010 levels by 2030, and between 94% and 107% below 2010 levels by 2050. Global net C02 emissions would need to continue to decline into the second half of the century reaching negative net emissions in all scenarios.

In a recent report titled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” 11,000 scientists declared that even with the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other global assemblies and scientists’ explicit warnings of insufficient progress (Ripple et al. 2017) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth's climate and the health of its inhabitants. An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.

Reaching climate neutrality by the mid-century through a multilevel collaboration is one of the most unique, innovative and strong provisions of the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015. While climate emergency declaration initiative started in 2016, the wakeup calls through the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5) and grassroots mobilization played a key role to trigger this initiative into a global movement. Cities such as Ann Arbor, MI, New York, NY and Vancouver, BC have declared a climate emergency and in doing so they have committed to bold action and awareness raising of the urgency of the issue in their community. Minneapolis needs to join these and the other 900 jurisdictions worldwide by acknowledging the climate emergency we are facing right here in Minneapolis.

  • No fiscal impact anticipated