Shane Steele: The biggest way that GreenStep Cities has helped us is to be a framework of reference to what we need to be thinking about to accomplish our climate action plan goals. There is no model for small towns with carbon neutral climate action goals. It’s not like we can turn to another city of 1,300 people and ask what they have been doing for EV deployment or streamlining solar permitting. So the GreenStep Cities team and resources have been the biggest help. We can turn to the Best Practice Actions and scale down actions to fit Grand Marais’ needs.
Is Grand Marais thinking about how to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?
Shane Steele: This is an important part of tracking progress for our Climate Action Plan. We are focused on GHG emissions from our community and the emissions emitted due to the electricity we consume. We are a really small city and finding a carbon accounting program is tough because it’s hard to justify those costs but I know Steps 4 and 5 have tools that can help.
How does Grand Marais engage the community about climate change?
Shane Steele: Our Climate Action Plan is a community-wide plan, so we will be calling on the community to help us all achieve this goal - residents and businesses. There is support for the plan within the community, and many local residents and business owners are already taking it upon themselves to reduce their carbon emissions. Among skeptics, there are some who feel that certain actions in the CAP might not work up here because we are small, the weather is colder, or any number of concerns. Our strategy is to start with city operations first as a demonstration to show that new technology like EVs or solar plus storage systems can work in Grand Marais. There is a lot that can be accomplished on a 20-year timeline, things that seem out of reach now may look different 5, 10, or 15 years in the future.