Messages from the Council Chair

A statewide approach to climate change

December 2019

Molly CummingsEvery part of Minnesota is affected by climate change. Warmer global temperatures cause more water to evaporate. And because what goes up must come down, 100-year floods will occur more often; big snowfalls and other extreme weather will become more common.

This month, Governor Tim Walz formed a state cabinet-level group to tackle climate change head-on. It’s a big challenge that will require regional and statewide partnerships to address.

At the Met Council, we’ve been elevating climate change to a regional issue for the past decade. Starting with our own operations, we power buses and wastewater treatment plants with renewable energy whenever it’s feasible. Working with Xcel Energy, we’re looking for new ways to use solar, wind, and other renewables to reduce our production of greenhouse gases. As one of Xcel’s largest customers, we can help them make the changeover to renewables by ensuring there is a market for that energy.

Flooding near a road.Metro Transit is one of the largest purchasers of diesel fuel in the state, which is a significant producer of carbon dioxide. That’s why we are beginning to change the fleet over to electric buses as the technology advances. Minnesota winters are tough, and we are actively working with manufacturers to find the best way to operate cost-effectively.

Our goal is to certify that all the energy used in Met Council’s operations — from wastewater treatment to transit and housing — all comes from renewables by 2040.

Now we can take the work we’ve done and share it with other members of the state subcabinet on climate change. We have worked with dozens of communities to help them write 20-year comprehensive planning documents that address climate change. Roads and other infrastructure have to be able to withstand more extreme weather. Plans for new city buildings, vehicles, and even landscaping projects are being made with an eye towards mitigating and adapting to climate change.

In the coming months, the Governor’s subcabinet will be looking for ways that all of the state’s agencies can tackle this challenge together. We’re eager to apply the lessons we’ve learned on the regional level statewide. Likewise, the Twin Cities metro area has much to learn from the rest of Minnesota.