Hennepin County’s Climate Action Plan
Our goal: net zero carbon emissions by 2050
Globally, climate scientists agree that we need to substantially reduce emissions and make rapid and far reaching changes in all aspects of society to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.
Hennepin County has adopted ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to reflect that need. These goals position Hennepin County as a leader on addressing climate change in the upper Midwest.
Net zero carbon emissions is achieved by “balancing” a limited amount of carbon released with offsets that remove carbon from the atmosphere. These emission reduction targets apply to both the geographic area of the county and county operations.
Climate Action Plan strategies
Hennepin County’s Climate Action Plan includes strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate in ways that reduce vulnerabilities and ensure a more equitable and resilient Hennepin County.View the Climate Action Plan
PDF (91 pages - 8MB)
Download the Climate Action Plan
Explore the strategies
The path to achieving our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals
Achieving the county's ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals will require big changes in the energy we use, how we get around, and the goods we buy. It also requires practices that remove carbon from the atmosphere and working in sync with our partners. These charts show the path forward to meeting the county’s goals.
Greenhouse gas emission sources
Hennepin County's greenhouse gas emissions inventory summarizes countywide emissions from the following sources. About 2/3 of emissions come from energy use, 1/3 from transportation, and a small fraction from waste.
How we get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
Starting after 2020, the solid line across the top of the chart is a forecast of business-as-usual based on anticipated population and job growth out to 2050. The dotted line trending down to 2050 shows how the county can meet its net zero greenhouse gas reduction goal. The stars at 2025 and 2030 show the emission reduction targets established by the county board.
Emission reductions needed from energy use
On the energy side in blue, the county has a role to play in leading by example in achieving carbon-free electricity, making energy efficiency improvements, and electrifying buildings. The county will also support other local governments in adopting these efforts.
Emission reductions needed from transportation
For transportation in green, the county plays an important role in reducing vehicle-related emissions within the county’s transportation network and supporting transit and transit-oriented development.
Emission reductions needed from waste
With waste and material use in purple, the county’s responsibility to manage a solid waste system provides numerous opportunities to advance waste reduction and recycling.
Emission reductions needed from carbon sequestration
With carbon sequestration in gray, the county’s natural resources and land management work offer opportunities to improve soil health, restore habitats, plant trees, and use compost and biochar in landscaping projects.
Greenhouse gas emission trends in Hennepin County
The 2006 to 2020 Hennepin County greenhouse gas emissions inventory and analysis (PDF) provides a high-level overview of greenhouse gas emissions trends in the county since 2006. This emissions inventory accounts for emissions generated within county boundaries from electricity and natural gas use, vehicle travel, and waste and wastewater.
In 2020, 64% of emissions countywide came from building energy use, 33% from vehicle travel, and 3% from waste and wastewater management.
Hennepin County’s emissions decreased 13% from 2006 to 2019 and an additional 19% from 2019 to 2020. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, data from 2020 is considered an anomaly and is discussed separately in the report from 2006 to 2019 trends.
The main reasons for the emission reductions are cleaner electricity supplied by Xcel Energy, improved energy efficiency and conservation in commercial and industrial buildings, and less travel per person.
This chart shows the county's previous and current greenhouse gas emission goals and progress toward meeting those goals.
Significant reductions in all sectors will be needed to achieve the county's new goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
How the plan was developed
The development of the climate action plan included multiple phases:
- Phase 1: Research and assessment on climate change impacts and greenhouse gas emissions
- Phase 2: Develop goals and strategies
- Phase 3: Review, build support, and seek approval
- 2021 and beyond: Seek and facilitate partnerships to accomplish the work
Staff from every line of business in the county were engaged in work teams to develop goals and strategies. A disparities reduction lens was applied to each of the brainstormed strategies.
The county’s approach to engagement began with internal coordination and commitment. It then expanded to include public entity and community group partners, and then residents and businesses more broadly.
- First phase of public engagement in fall 2020: Feedback sessions summary (PDF) and survey results (PDF)
- Second phase of public engagement in February and March 2021: Feedback summary (PDF) and verbatim comments (PDF)
- Final public comment period in April 2021: All comments (XLSX)
Key findings from the research and assessment phase
- Summary of key findings from the vulnerability assessment and greenhouse gas emission sources and trends in Hennepin County (PDF), presentation developed for county commissioners
- Hennepin County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (PDF 10MB)
- Hennepin County Climate Vulnerability Assessment executive summary (PDF)