More than ever it’s time to come together. With Minnesota being home to 19 Fortune 500 companies, key business leaders and stakeholders are coming to the table to address the challenges of natural resource scarcity and opportunities of evolving customer preferences. Minnesota has a proud leadership history in addressing these challenges; however, we’ve reached a tipping point – one that urges us to bring our talents and expertise together. This will take business leadership.
The Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, a business-led partnership focused on advancing the next frontier of corporate sustainability, was formed on the idea that collaborating across industries could most comprehensively advance regional prosperity. With 30 businesses and organizations, our partnership aims to make a substantial impact on reducing Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions in addition to ensuring a thriving economy and healthy, equitable communities.
As a coalition, we are proud of strides that have been made thus far, while still acknowledging that there is a long way to go in advancing the circular economy. Toward that end, the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition is focused on increasing awareness around the business case for clean energy. Customers, investors and employees support renewable and other carbon reducing efforts, so we all need to take action to achieve these goals.
Electrification of transportation
For example, we are collaborating on electrification as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in transportation across sectors. We are exploring electric vehicles for our corporate and employee fleets through policy, charging infrastructure, and other solutions that corporate leaders can implement.
There are positive benefits that companies can experience transitioning to a clean-energy economy as well. Some of those benefits might include a reduction in operational and supply chain costs or risk, meeting demand from customers and investors, the ability to offer job opportunities that attract and retain talent in Minnesota, and improved quality of life.
Many coalition members have made impressive announcements that move us forward and reinforce the importance of business collaboration. In May, Xcel Energy announced the closing of its last coal units in Minnesota in addition to committing to a significant increase in energy efficiency and building 3,000 megawatts of solar energy. These steps are part of its proposed Upper Midwest Energy Plan, which outlines how the company will achieve its ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions from the electricity it provides to customers by 80 percent by 2030.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will decide if the proposed plan complies with Minnesota laws, protects customers, and is in the public interest. Through our business leadership we are working to explore how the long-term strategy in the plan can help our region lead the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Best Buy’s goal
In a similar vein, after reducing its carbon emissions by more than 50 percent, Best Buy has committed to achieving an even greater impact. This June, more than 850 thought leaders convened in Minneapolis for a conference, Circularity 19, which informed and empowered attendees to turn circular economy concepts into profitable opportunities. While at the conference, Best Buy announced that it has set a goal to help consumers reduce their carbon emissions by 20 percent and save $5 billion on utility costs by 2030, while it works to decrease its own emissions 75 percent over the same period.
These announcements are examples of companies considering societal and customer preferences. It will take time and collaborative partnerships to reach our global targets, so it’s worth banding together to make progress. Citizens, stakeholders, and employees have a great amount of influence in asking businesses to lead on these complex issues.
We know and understand the challenges; now it’s time to focus and take action. Many organizations, like the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, are committed to addressing issues on clean energy, water, and materials through collaboration across public and private sectors. As with every big hurdle there will be some pushback and difficulties, but collaboration is what will set our region apart and will help create a clear path for progress and innovation for other companies and regions to mirror.
Amy Fredregill is managing director of the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, a business-led partnership working to address complex environmental issues and advance the next frontier of corporate sustainability.
WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)