This city cut its carbon emission 30 percent. Its leaders decided that energy and environmental goals were more important than politics or old ways of work.

Meet Burnsville, Minnesota. Here’s how the town did it.*

Republican mayor Elizabeth Kautz kicked it off. She says it started in 2005, when she met with mayors from across the country and discussed the threats posed by global warming.

Kautz: “It was clear to all of us that we needed to do something.”

Burnsville’s report to citizens about Greenhouse Gas

By June of that year, 141 mayors pledged to cut carbon pollution in their communities.

Now, Burnsville’s emissions are almost 30 percent lower than they were back then.

Much of the reduction has come from improvements to the city’s water infrastructure. Energy efficient upgrades to wells, pumps, and water treatment plants have cut way back on the electricity used in treating and delivering water to residents.

The city also switched to LED lighting, has improved energy efficiency, and promotes composting, which can help reduce methane emissions from landfills.

An image from one of Burnsville’s planning documents.

Kautz says climate action is everyone’s job.

Kautz: “It is imperative that we make good decisions and be good stewards of this planet – this beautiful planet that we live on.”

Burnsville is an example of citizens, policymakers and elected officials making energy and environmental choices together.

So, how about the Carolinas? Asheville is one city tackling climate challenges, and we will be writing about it soon. Charlotte has been making plans to reduce emissions. South Carolina mayors met several years ago to make plans. USA Today ran a column June 18 titled, These American cities will soon be under water. Six South Carolina cities were named.

Is it urgent? As people might say in Minnesota, “You betcha.”


*Much of this Quick Take is from the Yale Climate Connection, a nonpartisan multi-media service.