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Climate Testimonials Aim to Spur Policy Action in MN

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Youth-centered environmental groups say their generation is greatly concerned about climate change, and policymakers need to take their concerns more seriously. (Adobe Stock)
Youth-centered environmental groups say their generation is greatly concerned about climate change, and policymakers need to take their concerns more seriously. (Adobe Stock)
November 23, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When Minnesota lawmakers convene for the next regular session in January, the pandemic is likely to top the agenda. But some hope issues such as climate change don't fall out of focus.

One group is trying to prevent that by gathering personal stories for all legislators to hear.

Climate Generation, an organization founded by polar explorer Will Steger, asks residents from all 67 legislative districts in Minnesota to write testimonials about how climate change has affected them and their community.

Kira Liu, senior community engagement coordinator for the group, said they're expecting a range of messages.

"Whether they're witnessing the changing winter seasons, or more extreme weather events," Liu explained. "Or, just about how they're thinking about climate change right now."

She added broader perspectives could include climate justice, and how low-income communities and communities of color shoulder much of the burden from a changing environment.

On the first day of the session, letters will be delivered to each lawmaker, along with a book from the group containing similar stories.

Zaria Romero, a college student from Rochester, wrote a testimonial for the book and also plans to compose a letter for the project. Her message focuses on reducing waste sent to landfills.

Romero said even though she is mostly shielded from any direct impact, she also wants to see more movement on reducing climate change disparities.

"Nobody should be treated that way," Romero insisted. "And we should all be working together to create a sustainable living situation for everyone. "

In 2007, Minnesota established a plan to meet certain benchmarks for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but has had some trouble meeting those goals.

That has renewed calls over the past couple of years for more comprehensive action.

Meanwhile, the deadline for submitting a letter for the project is Dec. 8.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN