Program helps Minnesota businesses start curbing emissions…sort of


by Helen Schnoes | August 6, 2009 • MPR reported recently that eight Minnesota companies are now part of the EPA’s Climate Leaders program, which works with businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program began in 2002 and now has companies from all 50 states as partners. Many businesses are able to make changes with the assistance of this program which have led to economic savings as well.

Hindsight is the official blog of Minnesota 2020. Hindsight gives the run down on the news that jumps out at us on the issues that matter. Oftentimes these stories show us how much further we need to go to have progressive policy realized in Minnesota.

3M leads Minnesota in its emissions reduction efforts. From 2002 to 2007 it reduced its total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 60%. Hormel, J. R. Watkins, and The John Roberts Company join 3M, Best Buy, Target, Travelers Companies, and Ecolab Inc, as the Minnesota companies involved.

While the program provides a valuable service to companies – it is free to join and welcomes Fortune 500 companies as well as small businesses – and their results are significant, it in no way issues the kind of curbing of greenhouse gas emissions necessary today.

Even the director of environmental affairs at Best Buy characterized many of their changes as “low hanging fruit” and that there remain “still quite a bit out there to be picked”. He hopes the company will set more ambitious goals once current ones are met. This knowledge that many of the steps currently underway by companies are only the beginning is important as we move forward.

Our inevitable transition to a more sustainable lifestyle must happen on many fronts, and will work best when we work together – as seen here with the partnership between government and business. However, while we need more governmental leadership and business innovation to tackle this monstrous issue, cultural changes are important too. So let us see not only a reduction of Target’s greenhouse gas emissions, but also a reduction in cheap, unnecessary products boasting environmental slogans sold for a few bucks and destined for the back of one’s closet. We should strive to live green, not merely market the idea.

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