Message from the Council Chair

Protecting the air, water, and home we love

May 2024

Chair Charlie ZelleI’m an avid cyclist. I love to get out on my bike and enjoy the natural beauty of this region – even during this spring’s rains. They are a welcome relief from the drought we’ve experienced for the last few years. 

It’s not always easy to know the difference between normal variations in weather and longer-term changes in climate. But climate experts know the difference – and here in Minnesota, they’ve been tracking trends over the last several decades. We are experiencing warmer temperatures, especially night-time temperatures, more intense precipitation events, and more periods of drought.

These changes impact our lives. Farmers have a tougher time growing the food we need. More intense storm events damage our homes. Smoke from distant wildfires keeps us inside in the summer and threatens our health.

We want the people of this region to be prepared for climate change. That’s why we are taking action to prepare our facilities and operations for the impacts. We’re also driving down our emissions to reduce our contribution to the problem.

Treating 250 million gallons of water each day and providing 49 million transit rides each year takes a lot of energy. But since we started tracking our greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, they’ve gone down 32%. The reductions were driven by several factors:

  • Improvements the power utilities have made in the energy grid

  • Improvements in our wastewater treatment processes and the fuel efficiency of Metro Transit buses

  • Energy conservation actions at our facilities

  • And more recently, the reduction in transit service at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year our emissions went down by 2.7%, despite an increase in transit service and onboarding a new transit garage.

We made other progress in 2023 on the goals in our five-year, internally focused Climate Action Work Plan. We now have zero-emission bus transition plans for all our transit services, and we invested in updating our popular localized flood mapping tool. We also identified ways to embed environmental justice into our climate-related work.

Our internal climate work strengthens our ability to deepen our partnerships with local governments and support their efforts to reduce emissions and become a more resilient region. You will be hearing more about some of these efforts in the coming year.

It's clear that to protect this region that we love for ourselves and future generations, we must all work together to reduce our emissions and safeguard our clean air and water, our health, our homes, and our communities.

By Chair Charlie Zelle