Climate Action Plan aspires to promote change

Roots and Shoots launch brings awareness to sustainability


Grace Farley

Senior Lukas Wrede points to his fellow Roots and Shoots members while the crowd applauds them for their work on the Climate Action Plan at their launch party April 22. The launch featured many speakers including St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano, Superintendent Astein Osei, Congressman Keith Ellison and several park high school students as well as students form the St. Louis Park class of 2025.

Emma Yarger

As a crowd began to form at the Climate Action Plan launch event, senior Roots and Shoots president Lukas Wrede said he was overwhelmed by the amount of community support the plan was receiving.

“It’s really powerful because everyone came here specifically for that reason, for an opportunity to take action and they couldn’t have been given the opportunity any better,” Wrede said. “I know that this is just the beginning. This event is really the kickoff, and that’s what it is, it’s the launch of the Climate Action Plan and for the next 20 – 30 years.”

Representative Keith Ellison said St. Louis Park is a leader in the state. In his speech, he said he believes the Climate Action Plan will inspire other cities in Minnesota and across the country to reduce their carbon emissions.

“No other city in the state of Minnesota has marked (as) an ambitious a plan as you have,” Ellison said. “St. Louis Park leads the way quite all of the time so it’s not that unusual that (St. Louis Park) will be doing it all over again.”

Representative from Xcel Energy Michelle Swanson spoke to the crowd and said St. Louis Park has worked with Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy program to complete the Climate Action Plan, which includes the goal to have 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

“We provide resources to help the community identify better energy objectives, develop a plan and implement strategies to achieve their goals,” Swanson said. “Over the past two years we’ve enjoyed supporting city staff, sustainability commision members and volunteers to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

In his speech, Ellison said it is important to consider how the Climate Action Plan will affect the entire community, including all financial situations and all ages.

“When we think about going green we’ve gotta think about everybody and we’ve got to recognize that not everybody experiences our society the same way,” Ellison said. “There are impacts of climate change that people with the least resources will not be able to escape.”

Park students from the class of 2025 spoke about their hopes for the planet’s future. In a speech made by Park Spanish Immersion student Arun Ferran-Sepatnekar she said she wants to stop climate change by taking action, not just talking about it.

“I would really like it if this plan works because it will inspire other cities to go green so maybe one day the whole country will use renewable energy and there’s a possibility that the whole world will too,” Ferran-Sepatnekar said.

Superintendent Astein Osei said Roots and Shoots demonstrated a great sense of commitment to implementing the Climate Action Plan in the St. Louis Park Schools. He said he is thankful for the bond referendum that was passed in November, which will allow the district to update its facilities in a sustainable manner.

“From the very moment I met them, they demonstrated a great sense of commitment to this cause and a great sense of influence,” Osei said. “One of the good things that we’re doing in partnership and in collaboration with Roots and Shoots is continuing to find ways, as we’re developing these new facilities, (to) make sure that they’re as energy efficient as possible.”

According to Mayor Jake Spano, students from Roots and Shoots presented their concerns about St. Louis Park’s position on climate in 2016.

“We weren’t applying ourselves to climate and I would say that we committed at that point to move forward with something, but I have to give kudos to the youth that have been involved in this process because they stuck with us through that,” Spano said. “We know this is a real issue, we know we need to work on it. This is our first step in really digging into that but it’s gonna take all of you and all of our youth to continue that work,” Spano said.

Osei said he feels proud of Park students for their commitment to issues they are passionate about.

“I continue to be impressed and just thankful for the students of St. Louis Park Schools,” Osei said. “They’re not afraid to elevate their voice and really try to work to be the change they want to see in the world, which is extremely inspiring and it gives me so much hope for the future.”