Climate Action Update: Hennepin County Climate Action Plan adopted

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Board adopts Hennepin County Climate Action Plan

Today, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners adopted the county’s first Climate Action Plan (PDF) that outlines how the county will act boldly on climate change.

Graphic that says Hennepin County Climate Action Plan, acting boldly on climate change for ourselves and generations to come

The plan prioritizes disparity reduction and serves as a strong foundation for a coordinated approach to planning, policy development, and response to climate change.

“This plan, developed by internal staff and shaped with stakeholders and robust public feedback, is a testament to the care, commitment, and conviction that county staff and county residents share in tackling one of the largest and most consequential issues of our time,” said Hennepin County Board Chair Marion Greene.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions

The county has also updated the county's goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030.

Graphic that says our goal, net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

The plan outlines the path forward to meeting these ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals:

  • Buildings and energy use – Leading by example in county operations to achieve carbon-free electricity by 2035, continued energy efficiency improvements, and electrification of buildings. The county will also support other local governments in adopting these efforts.
  • Transportation – As a leader in transit and transit-oriented development and as the operator of a transportation network of county roads, the county has an important role to play in reducing vehicle-related emissions. The county will advocate for buildout of planned transit routes and develop new routes, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and promote electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Waste and material use – In the county’s role of managing a solid waste system, the county will focus on preventing food waste, diverting organic material from the trash, and advancing zero-waste policies.
  • Capture of carbon – To offset the release of greenhouse gases by protecting natural resources. The county will work with private and public landowners and other entities to plant trees, preserve and restore natural areas, and improve soil health.

Adapting to a changing climate

Cars driving through flooded roads

The plan also identifies how to best adapt to a climate that has already changed and will continue to change in the future. The climate in Hennepin County has already gotten much warmer and wetter and these trends, in addition to increased potential for extreme heat and drought, are projected to continue.

The county will respond to increased pressure on natural resources and the built environment by preparing for impacts such as increased rainfall, extreme weather, and freeze/thaw cycles on building sites, roads, and other infrastructure. The plan calls for using green and natural infrastructure to manage stormwater, improve water quality, decrease the urban heat island, and sequester carbon.

Prairie restoration on Minnesota River bluffs

Hennepin County has an abundance of natural areas and diverse landscapes that serve as the foundation for our collective quality of life. Protecting and enhancing our natural areas will provide habitat for native plants and wildlife, increase well-being, and make our communities more resilient.

“Healthy ecosystems play a vital role not only in the health of plants and animals, but of people, too,” said Rosemary Lavin, Director of Environment and Energy.

Creating a more equitable and resilient Hennepin County

Kids playing baseball in wheelchairs

By cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change, the county will help to build a more resilient community that is better prepared for more abrupt and challenging situations.

The plan describes how the impacts of climate change will affect all residents, but the impacts will not be felt equally. The effects of climate change related to air pollution, flooding, and extreme heat will exacerbate health threats, especially for people of color, low-income families, and residents with physical disabilities. The plan outlines how the county will protect the health of residents amid these increasing threats.

The plan includes strategies to mitigate disproportionate impacts and outlines how the county will protect residents’ health.

“The investments the county makes in responding to climate change also present the opportunity to reduce disparities in employment and grow the economy,” said Hennepin County Board Chair Marion Greene.

Thank you and staying connected

Thank you for providing feedback during the plan development

The county established this e-newsletter to keep the public informed and engaged in the development of the Climate Action Plan. Commissioners and county staff are grateful for the community’s interest in the plan and continued commitment to providing valuable feedback at each step in the engagement process. Your participation resulted in significant improvements in the plan!

Community engagement during plan implementation

With adoption of the plan with its ambitious goals, Hennepin County is ready to lead on climate action. As we shift to implementation, we are committed to ongoing engagement as the framework of the plan evolves into work plans to implement the plan’s strategies.

Stay tuned for updates and resources

We will continue to publish this e-newsletter with updates about the county’s progress on climate action and resources to help you get involved.

Check out the county's new climate initiative website

We also encourage you to check out the county’s new website that includes information about:

Hennepin County
Climate Action

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