A Met Council initiative to create an internal, agency-wide Climate Action Plan is under way. The plan will unify efforts across all Met Council divisions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate impacts, and help us build resilience to potential changes. It will include our wastewater treatment and transit systems, local planning assistance work, internal support services, and more.
For well more than a decade, we have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the wastewater system and transit systems by improving processes, adopting solar energy, and purchasing hybrid-electric buses and pool cars, for example. The new plan will formalize and focus our longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship.
The Met Council adopted Thrive MSP 2040, the regional development guide, in 2014. It directed the agency to act on climate change.
Climate Plan will set course for agency
“While the Met Council has received accolades for our work on climate change, policymakers and staff have resolved to create a cohesive, organization-wide plan to set goals, further coordinate, and measure progress on our commitments over time,” said Lisa Barajas, director of the Council’s Community Development division. “Climate change is already having an impact on our infrastructure and how we do business, so we must become more nimble, able to adapt, and resilient as an organization.”
The plan also will address efforts to advance environmental justice, which is centered on the idea that all people should have the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their environment and their health.
An opportunity to share expertise and to learn from others
At the April 21 Committee of the Whole meeting, Council members expressed strong enthusiasm for the plan, discussed how they want to be engaged in the work, and offered ideas for what a successful plan will entail.
Council Chair Charlie Zelle noted the Council’s technical assistance, tools, and research capacity related to climate change and our partnerships with local governments. He called this an opportunity for Council members to be ambassadors, to spread the word and help facilitate action on a larger scale.
Council members also acknowledged that some cities and counties may well be ahead of us on addressing climate change, and that the learning can go both ways.
“We do engage a lot with our partners, and learn from one another,” Barajas said. “That certainly will be part of our work on this plan.”
Peter Lindstrom, chair of the Council’s Environment Committee, said he supports the proposed 3- to 5-year time frame of the plan, because it creates more accountability than setting big goals for a given year way down the road.
Council members also expressed a desire to ensure the plan, as much as possible, intersects with the goals of the recently adopted Regional Economic Framework and efforts to build a more equitable region, including climate justice.
Plan completion expected in early 2022
A cross-divisional team began work on the Climate Action Plan in 2020. The project’s first phase, developing an inventory of all the work we are already doing related to climate change, is near completion. That information will provide a baseline for setting goals — and strategies to reach those goals — for the next three to five years. A draft of the plan for Council review and adoption is expected by early 2022.