State Representative Melissa Hortman headed to Paris climate talks

36BState Representative Melissa Hortman (DFL – Brooklyn Park) is traveling to international climate talks in Paris as part of a delegation from the University of Minnesota.  The United Nations meeting in Paris is the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  President George H.W. Bush signed the treaty in 1992.  According to the United Nations, the objective of the 2015 Paris conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate from all the nations of the world.

Rep. Hortman chaired the Minnesota House Energy Policy Committee from 2013-2014 and is currently co-teaching an undergraduate climate policy class with Ellen Anderson, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, and former state senator.

“Minnesota has been a leader in clean energy and climate action policy,” said Rep. Hortman. “Starting with the renewable energy standard in 2007, which mandates that 25% of Minnesota’s electricity be generated by renewable resources, to our Next Generation Energy Act which set aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, and most recently with our nation-leading solar energy law of 2013, we have shown that subnational governments can lead and make a real difference on climate policy.”

According to the state’s Environmental Quality Board, Minnesota has spent $4.3 billion on natural disasters since 2000. The Risky Business Report, released earlier this year, noted that among other risks the state faces, future corn harvests are at risk from changes in climate.

“The cost of inaction is greater than the cost of taking action.  Our leadership has provided significant economic benefits for the state. Not only has Minnesota changed the trajectory of our greenhouse gas emissions, but jobs in our clean energy sector have increased 78% since 2000,” said Hortman.

While in Paris, Rep. Hortman will be finding ways to bring the climate talks back into the classroom at the University of Minnesota. She noted that her students will be the future leaders of governments, businesses and non-profits who will be grappling with the impacts of climate change and leading future mitigation and adaptation efforts. Rep. Hortman also plans to connect with other subnational leaders from around the world to learn what actions others have taken to reduce the climate impact of states and cities.

Rep. Hortman will depart for Paris 12/3 and return 12/13. She can be reached in Paris via email at rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn and can arrange telephone calls following email contact.