Several citizens turned to the council via an online platform as the body continues to meet virtually to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Lisa Fitzpatrick helped collect more than 700 signatures on a petition urging the Council to take action, saying, “We can and must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible. We are in a race to stop the climate crisis. It’s the race of your life. It’s a race for the future. “
Another Duluth resident, Libby Bent, called Duluth’s approach to the matter time, noting, “Last week atmospheric CO2 rose above 420 ppm – the highest level in history and about halfway to double pre-industrial levels.”
“The point is, we’re running out of time,” said Bent. “I believe the biggest obstacles we face are inertia and guidelines designed for the normal course of business. It will take agility and imagination. And not everything will be neat and tidy, but we have to be ready to try new things because we know with absolute certainty that business as usual doesn’t work. “
However, District 3 city councilor Roz Randorf, one of the sponsors of the resolution passed on Monday, said this was anything but a symbolic act.
“It has benchmarks. There is a work plan that is implemented by the city administration and the results are reported back to this council. So it’s really geared towards increasing accountability for specific goals. It’s measurable and actionable, ”she said.
Councilor Joel Sipress, another sponsor of the resolution, equated climate change with a leaky roof, emphasizing that delays in solving the problem only translate into more costly repairs.
While Fifth District Councilor Janet Kennedy was voting for the resolution, she made it clear that she did not want it to overshadow any other issues.
“I will not support the following, however. I am not going to support majority priority and create another system that does not take into account all of the other major problems we have with people who do not have a good place to live. We have educational problems. We have problems with people with color in this community not being treated well, not being accepted, still not doing well, and still living in poverty – lots of people, not just people of color. That has to be addressed. That can’t go away, “said Kennedy.
On the whole, Councilor Arik Forsman noted that Duluth is already feeling the environmental and economic effects of climate change, including the coastal erosion that has undermined the city’s lakewalk.
But he said the discussion of how best to respond needs to involve all parties, including neighborhoods and businesses.
“As a professional business developer, I believe that we need to value economic growth and prosperity while fighting climate change, and that we can make progress on both of these issues,” said Forsman.
He stated that the resolution does not increase taxes or lead to business mandates. But Forsman said, “Rather, the Climate Change Work Plan really creates a framework and an opportunity for more public sector collaboration so we can all do better.”