MINNETONKA — Students from Earth Clubs at Minnetonka High School and Hopkins High School awarded the city of Minnetonka a D+ in a youth climate report change card.
They presented the grade at the April 30 City Council meeting, calling on council members to pass a climate inheritance resolution.
The resolution would entail developing a climate action plan with the goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Additionally, the students asked for youth involvement throughout the process.
The report card was created through iMatter, in which high school students are encouraged to call up city staff and collect data to construct a final grade.
“We cannot waste any more time turning our heads away from climate change,” said Lucy Avenson, a Hopkins High School student. “It is our responsibility to turn our heads back and look at the crisis and start doing what’s necessary.”
The sections in the report card include whether: A city’s climate action plan gets to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner; the percent of renewables used to generate a city’s electricity is more than the national average and the percentage is rising; the amount of waste per person is decreasing and the percent recycled or composted is increasing; and, whether there is some kind of a program that will result in more carbon being removed from the atmosphere
On each section the city received:
- Net zero emissions: F
- Renewable energy: C-
- Waste programs: B
- Climate plan: D- (accounts for 50 percent of overall grade)
Councilmember Tony Wagner said there was one correction to make to their grading.
“I think this council is very committed to everything you’re setting,” he said. “One little fact piece, that the city two years ago committed to 100 percent solar usage of city power.”
Lia Harel is the Earth Club president and junior at Hopkins High School.
“I love my city and I want to use the report card as a way to better for the future of Minnetonka,” she said. “Our vision is Minnetonka creating and implementing a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, which is in line with what scientists have recommended to restore balance to the atmosphere by the end of the century.”
Students in neighboring cities such as Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina and Shakopee have presented report cards to their city councils as well.
“Spurred on by an iMatter team just this past Friday,” Harel said, “The Minneapolis City Council adopted a 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 resolution.”
Mayor Brad Wiersum said the staff would consult before responding.
“As a city leader and as a mayor and as a dad,” Wiersum said, “I want the future that I leave my kids to be as good or better than the future I had when I was growing up.”
Council member Deb Calvert said she’s seen the effects of climate change in her own family.
“I’m married to a career wildland firefighter, and climate change is real,” she said. “Fire behavior was entirely different and less radical than it is today. Thank you very much for doing what you’re doing, and don’t give up the fight. It’s going to be a lifelong battle.”