A light rail track pops up during extreme heat. Excess stormwater and groundwater seep and flow into the wastewater system during intense rainstorms. Increased freeze/thaw cycles damage roads, and water quality suffers because of the increased use of road and sidewalk salt. The Metropolitan Council is already experiencing how climate change can impact our transit and wastewater services and infrastructure investments.
In December, the Met Council adopted a Climate Action Work Plan. This internally focused plan makes commitments to:
- Accelerate the reduction of our carbon emissions.
- Make our facilities and services resilient to climate change.
- Partner with others to reduce regional emissions and increase resiliency.
- Incorporate environmental justice principles into all our climate work.
The five-year plan also includes strategies and dozens of specific actions that will help us fulfill these commitments. While not a regional climate plan, it will inform the policies in the Met Council’s 2050 regional development framework, which will be created over the next two years.
“Our vision for the Met Council is that we reduce our contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and make our services and facilities resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle. “This plan builds on our ongoing mitigation and adaptation work. It unifies our efforts across Met Council divisions, commits our organization to new initiatives, and incorporates environmental justice principles.”
“Action on climate change is a top priority of Governor Tim Walz,” Zelle said. “Our plan is aligned with and carries out our responsibilities under the Governor’s Minnesota Climate Action Framework.”
Plan assessed through an environmental justice lens
A cross-divisional staff team developed the plan over the last two years. At the same time, an internal Environmental Justice Task Force adopted principles and, with input from environmental justice practitioners, created an assessment tool to evaluate the plan. The assessment used quantitative and qualitative methods to identify strengths and gaps in the Climate Action Work Plan’s approach to environmental justice.
The assessment evaluated how the plan addresses the following key environmental justice themes: land stewardship and Indigenous relations; access to community resources; health; affordability and economic stability; community values, engagement, and cultural preservation; accountability; and climate adaptation.
After conducting the assessment, the task force recommended changes to improve the Climate Action Work Plan, which the plan reflects. In addition, the Environmental Justice Task Force recommended subsequent environmental justice work to be done by the Met Council.
Implementation of the plan is under way. A new Climate Action Work Plan Coordinating Team will be chartered and formed to coordinate the work across division work units and interdivisional work teams.
More about climate action at the Met Council