10. Climate change resilience: In 2040, Minneapolis will be resilient to the effects of climate change and diminishing natural resources, and will be on track to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Climate change is a defining challenge of this decade and even this century. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are destabilizing the earth’s climate and human activity is the primary driver of these emissions. Without rapid action to reduce these emissions, we will face threats to our economic livelihood, public health, and supplies of food, fresh water and power.
These impacts will not be felt equally across the globe, nor in Minneapolis; low-income and vulnerable residents face disproportionate impacts from climate change. Simply paying for energy takes a disproportionate share of income for low-income residents. Energy bills constitute 19 percent of income for households with income between 75 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level, but even households with incomes between 150 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level have energy bills higher than is considered affordable. Older adults, children and people with disabilities or certain medical conditions are at great risk of the effects of climate change, including hotter summer days and nights, higher levels of humidity, extreme storm events and rising rates of insect-borne illnesses.
To be resilient to the effects of climate change and diminishing natural resources, the city’s residents, communities, businesses and systems must be able to survive, adapt and thrive despite the stresses and shocks caused by climate change. Accomplishing this requires supporting and fostering an environment where residents of Minneapolis are well-connected to their neighbors and have social support systems in times of stress and shock. It requires a physical environment, such as trees and landscaping, that helps provide shade and passive cooling opportunities in the summer and reduces the impact of extreme cold in the winter. It requires stormwater infrastructure that can handle larger storm events, and it requires water resources sufficient to last through periods of drought. It requires energy systems that can efficiently handle periods of high demand and buildings that rely less on electricity and natural gas. It requires a transportation system that functions throughout extreme weather events, and it requires areas housing and employment capable of accommodating population shifts due to climate migration.
The worst impacts of climate change are not inevitable. Moving to a more energy-efficient economy, renewable and reliable energy sources for buildings and transportation, and a less wasteful system has the potential not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to improve public health, clean the air and water, and keep more dollars in the local economy.
The Minneapolis Climate Action Plan adopted in 2013 provides a road map toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with targets of 15 percent by 2015 and 30 percent by 2025 compared with 2006 levels. In 2014, Minneapolis adopted a vital long-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
In 2015, buildings accounted for 71 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions; commercial and industrial buildings accounted for nearly two-thirds of that and residential buildings accounted for the rest. Despite an increase in the number of buildings in the city of nearly 8 percent since 2006, electricity consumption has declined 6 percent during the same period and continues on a downward trajectory. Furthermore, emissions from electricity consumption are down 31 percent from 2006, accounting for 81 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas reductions in that time. Improved energy efficiency and cleaner electricity (more renewables and fewer coal power plants) are driving this change. Emissions from electricity consumption still comprise the largest share of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions, but this is expected to be eclipsed by emissions from natural gas in the coming years as more clean, renewable electricity is added to Xcel Energy’s portfolio. To achieve the 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 the city will need to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, and this will require a transition from relying solely on fossil fuel-derived natural gas for heating.
In 2015, on-road transportation accounted for 26 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Today, over 90 percent of passenger miles traveled in Minneapolis are in personal automobiles. Even with the adoption of electric cars, a 38 percent reduction in passenger miles traveled by automobile is needed to achieve the 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Achieving this goal requires changes to both transportation infrastructure and land use to make it easier to walk, bike or take transit to access jobs, goods and services. This means more people living close to transit, jobs, goods and services, as well as improved pedestrian, bicycle and transit systems.
In 2015, solid waste and wastewater accounted for 3 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. While this is low compared with emissions from buildings and transportation, opportunity exists to reduce it further, including by increasing recycling and organics collections as well as through water conservation.
To achieve the goal of climate change resilience, the City of Minneapolis will strive to substantially increase the energy efficiency of buildings by retrofitting existing buildings and improving the design of new buildings. It will also work to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in buildings and transportation. Minneapolis will establish a pattern of development and a transportation network that prioritizes pedestrians, bicyclers and transit users. At the same time, the City will prepare for the consequences of climate change by investing in improved stormwater management, urban heat island reduction and energy system resilience.
21 Policies relate to this goal. Click on a policy below to learn more about it.
Energy Efficient and Sustainable Buildings
Environmental Impacts of Transportation
Access to Commercial Goods and Services
Development Near METRO Stations
Open Spaces in New Development
Tree Canopy and Urban Forest
Climate Resilient Communities
Renewable and Carbon-Free Energy
Sustainable Water System Management
Integration of Water Management into Development