Survey: Minnesotans worried about climate change, but hopeful on solutions

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A major global conference centered around climate change is winding down this week. As those talks play out, Minnesotans are expressing their thoughts about the regional impact through a new survey.

The COP27 talks are being held in Egypt this year, and back in Minnesota, state residents say the issue is felt close to home. In a survey released this fall by the University of Minnesota, 76% of residents said they’re concerned about climate change.

Heidi Roop, director of the university’s Climate Adaptation Partnership, said what is also telling is 62% of Generation Z respondents are hopeful society will do enough to reduce the most harmful impacts.

“We often hear about the doom and gloom of climate change, and there certainly is plenty to be concerned about,” Roop emphasized. “But there is certainly a reason to have hope.”

She noted part of the hope stems from other responses, in which Minnesotans largely feel solutions should be a shared responsibility of all levels of government, including municipal leaders.

Roop acknowledged on the global front, nations face scrutiny for insufficient follow-through on their pledges. But she pointed to positive movement at the state level to help counteract slow progress.

Roop cited legislative action over the past year, such as a “Solar for Schools” program, as well as community grants to develop climate plans. She argued it aligns with poll results indicating it should be an “all hands on deck” response.

“Where the rubber really meets the road is by us engaging, connecting and acting in climate-smart ways in our own communities,” Roop contended.

Mike Reese, director of renewable energy for the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center, said the state is also building solutions within agriculture. It includes the use of wind energy to power the production of nitrogen fertilizer.

“I would say we’re responding in practical steps, and farmers in general are more conservative,” Reese stressed. “But we always keep going back to ‘the customer’s always right’ and they’re going to require at some point these products need to have lower carbon intensities.”

Among respondents, 60% said they would like to see more use of renewable energy to power homes and businesses, and Reese added the work they are doing certainly ties in with the sentiment.

Mike Moen writes for the Minnesota News Connection.

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