Clean Water Action is Fighting Global Warming and a Changing Climate in Minnesota

Climate Change = Water Change

Global warming and a changing climate will continue to have disruptive and unpredictable effects on both our drinking water sources and communities. Climate change is water change. Some places will experience increased frequency and intensity of rain, floods, and sewer overflows. Other areas will experience frequent droughts, water scarcity and increased fire risk. These changes can disproportionately affect underserved and communities of color—those already facing significant health and economic burdens.

The impacts of climate change on water resources and drinking water services are highly variable across Minnesota depending on location, current climate, and access to financial resources in the community, and the effects  are very difficult to anticipate or predict. This uncertainty makes the already complex job of managing water quantity and quality even more challenging. Moreover, changing weather and more extreme weather events will further stress our already aging and vulnerable infrastructure, making it more difficult to keep clean water accessible and affordable. Responding to the effects of climate change requires innovative policies, long-term planning, investments in communities, and coordination among drinking water systems, local leaders, and communities.

To fight global climate change requires robust participation from business and industry, national and international leaders and policymakers, and communities taking action. We all have a role in creating the change upon which our planet and communities’ quality of life depends. That’s why Clean Water Action Minnesota is committed to climate action. By working with members, allies, stakeholders, communities, and all levels of government to develop and advocate for substantive solutions now, we can ensure a safer, cleaner, healthier, and more economically just future for the generations to come.

Increasing Funding & Changing Energy Policy to Fight Climate Change

Since the late 1800s, fossil fuels—mainly coal, oil, and natural gas—have been the primary source of energy and our environment and public health have paid the price. Producing energy to fuel our transportation, business and manufacturing, heating and cooling our homes, keeping the lights on, among other things is the largest contributor to climate change.  We cannot fight climate change without reducing fossil fuels.  Despite incremental progress to transition to clean energy, fossil fuels still accounted for 77.6% of the energy production in the U.S. Minnesota has taken steps to increase use of renewable energy and implement energy efficiency strategies but it’s not enough. It is imperative that we continue to integrate higher levels of clean energy into the mix and modernize infrastructure that can support a shift to 100% clean energy. The following are a few of the important policies that CWA is working on to fight climate change at the State Capitol:

100% Carbon-Free Standard — Requiring electric utilities to use carbon-free fuels would significantly reduce carbon pollution from our power sector. Proposed legislation sets a 2050 deadline for all utilities to transition to 100% carbon-free sources. This allows plenty of time and flexibility for utilities to plan and reach the goal while keeping energy reliable and affordable.

Clean Energy First — In the next 20 years, many of the large power plants in Minnesotans will reach the end of their lives. This is the perfect time to replace dirty fossil fuel energies like coal with renewable energies like wind and solar. This bill would help us increase clean energy and fight climate change.

Energy Optimization Act — Energy efficiency is a crucial part of transitioning to 100% clean energy. Efficiency not only reduces climate change pollution, but also saves us money. The Energy Optimization Act builds on our existingenergy efficiency statute and would increases the energy efficiency goal for our major utilities and increase investments in energy efficiency for individuals in Minnesota, including renters and low income communities.

Water Infrastructure — Climate change results in periods of higher water levels, heavy downpours, and prolonged rains. Flooding along rivers, lakes, and in cities following extreme weather events is exceeding the limits of flood protection infrastructure designed for historical conditions. In urban areas, floods tend to affect poor, underserved, and communities of color. Increased use of de-icing salt because of more frozen rain and icing weather events will accelerate the deterioration of our infrastructure.  CWA is working for equitable solutions to address infrastructure needs that will be resilient to climate change effects. We have a huge deficit in infrastructure investments and need significant and dedicated funding to prepare.   

Changing Consumers Behavior to Address Climate Change

Many of the choices we make as consumers have a huge impact on our individual contribution to the problem of climate change.  You can save water, energy, and money as well as prevent a ton of climate change pollution by making small, but meaningful, changes to things you do every day. Here are the programs and projects CWA is working on that address climate change through educating people and helping them change their behavior to benefit our climate and water:

Rethinking Disposables — Oil, gas, and coal are the fossil-fuel building blocks of plastics.  CWA is working to pass policies to ban single use plastics in Minnesota and educating consumers on how they can rethink their behavior and reduce the use of single use products, especially plastics.

Reducing Consumer Demand for Factory Farmed Products — Agriculture production contributes about 15% of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Consumers have been led to believe that factory farms and current feeding systems are the most efficient ways to produce the food we need. But this doesn't have to be the case. CWA created the Field to Fork program to change the market by educating and engaging consumers to influence change from the bottom up by creating more consumer demand for sustainably produced meat. Take the Pledge: Stop Supporting Factory Farms!

Water and Energy Conservation — Producing safe and affordable drinking water and delivering it to our taps takes a lot of energy.  As referenced above, energy production is the largest contributor to climate change.  Using less water and conserving around our homes, yards, and communities is an easy way individuals can reduce their contribution to climate change.

Clean Water Action needs your help to make sure these clean water and climate change solutions become a reality. 

First, make sure you vote on November 3rd! Take our pledge to Vote for Climate Action!  You can join our team of advocates who are working to get this done. It doesn't matter if you are a lifelong volunteer or a first-timer, we need you! Contact our Water Program Coordinator, Steve Schultz at sschultz@cleanwater.org. We can connect with you, set you up with activities you are comfortable doing, and you can take menaingful actions for a sustainable future.