Morning Edition

How are Minnesota businesses responding to accelerating climate change?

a wind turbine in Chaska
A wind turbine in Chaska, Minn., helps power nearby homes. It’s one of 12 managed by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.
Paul Huttner | MPR News

Wildfires, floods, droughts — it’s been a summer of extreme weather in Minnesota and across the U.S., and we’re all feeling the effects of climate change more acutely than ever before.

A major report released Monday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paints a dire picture of accelerating, human-caused climate change and calls for immediate, drastic action.

So what are businesses and industries doing to curb the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change?

Host Cathy Wurzer spoke Tuesday with Gregg Mast, the executive director of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, about the nonprofit’s work helping businesses across Minnesota move toward clean energy initiatives.

“While the situation is urgent, there’s also a tremendous amount of opportunity that presents itself through the bold and immediate action that this moment requires,” Mast said.

Mast has seen businesses take action on climate for three main reasons: to reduce costs, to mitigate business and supply chain risks, and to take advantage of a “compelling and significant market opportunity” in going green.

“Demand is really moving the market,” Mast said.

Mast’s organization will release a report Wednesday showing more than 55,000 Minnesotans work in the state’s energy efficiency and clean energy industry. Mast said 2020 saw the first year-over-year decline in jobs numbers in the space, sparked by the economic downturn that came with the pandemic.

But Mast also said the report shows job growth in the second half of 2020 in those sectors, leaving him optimistic about the overall trends.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.