FILE, Mar. 2020—Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes addresses members of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change during a meeting at UW-Stevens Point. (Photo by Julian Emerson)
FILE, Mar. 2020—Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes addresses members of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change during a meeting at UW-Stevens Point. (Photo by Julian Emerson)

Lt. Gov. Barnes calls it the most ambitious climate agenda ever seen in Wisconsin.

More than two months after finishing its year-long work and making dozens of recommendations to address climate change in Wisconsin, members of a task force created by Gov. Tony Evers to address environmental issues are continuing to meet in an effort to help them become part of the 2021-23 state budget.  

During a meeting Thursday, task force members said they will continue to advocate for the state Legislature to adopt recommendations to address climate change. The wide-ranging proposals include such efforts as reducing flooding, reauthorizing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, and creating an Office of Environmental Justice to promote an equitable transition to clean energy.  

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who chairs the task force, said the climate change-related recommendations in Evers’ proposed $91 billion state budget are “probably the most ambitious agenda we’ve had in this state related to climate.” However, he said, “that ambition won’t mean anything if we can’t get this budget passed.”

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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has been critical of Evers’ forming the climate change task force, and some Republican lawmakers have said Evers’ proposed budget is too costly.

Task force members said they plan to work with lawmakers to convince them of the need to include climate change measures in the budget.

“There’s a huge amount of work that starts now,” said task force member Amber Meyer Smith, vice president of programs and government relations for the environmental organization Clean Wisconsin. “There are a lot of hurdles to overcome.”