Minnesota businesses workshop bold climate commitments

Over 70 representatives from 38 companies and organizations—ranging from multinational to local in scale—workshopped how to increase and amplify their commitments to carbon reduction and clean energy at our Leadership on Climate Action Business Workshop.

Businesses answered the following questions before the workshop began to report their interest in attending and working on climate action:

Why is your business committing to climate action?

What are your biggest barriers to acting on climate?

What are you looking forward to today?

Opening Remarks:  

Will Steger began the program with his eyewitness to climate change and his call to action for founding Climate Generation. James Redford, keynote speaker, grounded the necessity for corporate action on climate change and the groundswell of clean energy happening around the country that is cheaper, better, and inevitable to grow our economy and create a sustainable future. Stephanie Zawistowski, Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Dayton, discussed the climate and clean energy progress Minnesota has already made as a leading state and member of the U.S. Climate Alliance.  

After Paris:   

Janet Brown, Associate Director of Climate Generation, shared the mission of Climate Generation and information on the progress America has made with climate action in only one year — the time it has been since the Trump Administration decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.

Private Sector Leadership:

Dominique Nils Conseil, global business leader and strategic advisor, spoke to the place of business at the leading edge of socio-environmental responsibility. At the helm of Aveda Corporation for seventeen years, Conseil proved a business can dramatically grow its top and bottom lines while simultaneously enhancing socio-environmental responsibility.

Roadmap to Sustainability:  

Ceres Senior Director Natasha Scotnicki presented the network’s Turning Point: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability report, highlighting the top ways that businesses are positioned to address sustainability issues from climate change to human rights. You can download the full report here.

Climate Commitments:

Businesses vocalized their top three goals to act on climate. From companies ranging in size, targets included reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increase clean energy percentages in their portfolios, as well as other science-based, measurable, and ambitious commitments.

Corporate Vignettes:

Six companies — three of which were highlighted in the Ceres Turning Point report — presented on their science-based climate targets and how they are using unique approaches to address the issue.

Alexis Ludwig-Vogen, Best Buy, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Alexis shared Best Buy’s targets to significantly reduce carbon emissions from their operations to energy sourcing, as well as how sustainability is presented in customer programs and brand-wide communications.

Jeff Hanratty, General Mills, Applied Sustainability Manager

Jeff spoke to General Mill’s mission to earn the trust of their consumers through sustainability leadership and treating the world with care. Their science-based targets are factored into the growth and resilience of their supply chain, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Judy Poferl, Xcel Energy, Senior Vice President, Corporate Secretary and Executive Services

Judy shared Xcel Energy’s trajectory toward leading the clean energy transition, which includes targets to reduce carbon in the midwest energy supply by 80% by 2030. Electrifying transportation, increasing energy efficiency, and solidifying the reliability of the grid are key points in their values-based vision for the future.

Eliza Clark, Andersen Corporation, Director of Sustainability and Environmental

Andersen Corporation sees climate change as a top global risk, forming four sustainability pillars (responsible sourcing, reducing their footprint, sustainable products, making a difference in their community) to guide their work.

Adam Fetcher, Askov Finlayson, Vice President of Environmental Impact & Policy

Adam spoke to the company’s Keep the North Cold initiative, which has developed into a brand-wide mission to calculate their carbon footprint, measure the social cost of their impact, and use that amount to support leading-edge climate solutions.

Steve Dixon, Birchwood Financial, CFA, Principal Investment Manager

Steve shared Birchwood Financial’s work to help individuals align their financial goals with their environmental values — and sustainable investing has increased by 600% in the last decade.

Collaborative Conversations:

To wrap up the workshop, tables worked together to brainstorm around two questions:

How can you amplify the actions you are currently taking publicly? and How can you ratchet up your company’s ambition? What do you need?  

Companies and organizations who attended the day include:

  • 3M
  • Accredited Investors
  • All Energy Solar
  • Andersen Corporation
  • Askov Finlayson
  • Avangrid Renewables
  • Aveda Corporation
  • Best Buy
  • Birchwood Financial
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • BWBR
  • Century College
  • Centered Wealth
  • Ceres
  • Clean Energy Economy MN
  • Daikin Applied
  • ESG Architects
  • Environmental Quality Board
  • Ever-Green Energy / District Energy
  • fig + farro
  • Fresh Energy
  • General Mills
  • Great Plains Institute
  • Great River Energy
  • HealthPartners
  • Honeywell
  • Institute on the Environment – U of M
  • IPS Solar
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Mortenson
  • NuraHealth SPC
  • Olson Energy Company
  • Rahr Corporation
  • Target Corporation
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Uponor
  • Wedin Communications LLC
  • Xcel Energy

Attendees left the workshop with a hopeful, forward-looking mindset:

In the Media:

Minnesota officially joined the We Are Still In climate declaration during our event. Read the success story here.

Listen to James Redford and Will Steger interview with MPR’s Climate Cast on climate change and clean energy in Minnesota.

Tim Nixon of Thomson Reuters and Nicole Rom, our executive director, highlight the opportunities and successful examples of renewable energy taking hold in Minnesota.


Special thanks to Drawnwell, LLC, photographer Steve Niedorf, and Margaret Winchell, as well as to our sponsors who made the event possible!

Events Sponsors (all events)

Expedition Lead

Antarctic Sponsor

Arctic Circle Sponsor

North Star Sponsor




Film Screening Sponsor

Workshop Happy Hour Sponsor