The county must prioritize protecting the health of residents amid the increasing threats of climate change. At the same time, the investments the county makes in responding to climate change present the opportunity to reduce disparities in employment and grow the economy.
To have a transformative impact, the county needs the support and engagement from residents, businesses, and organizations to advance collective action and drive systemic change.
Climate change is likely to bring more abrupt and challenging situations, such as flash floods or severe weather, that worsen existing disparities. A climate hazard, such as water in the basement, could be an inconvenience for some, a manageable problem for others, or a catastrophic event for those without the means to respond. Building a more resilient community at both the individual and community level will help disrupt disparities and protect our society, economy, and public health.
The impacts of climate change will affect all residents, but the impacts will not be felt equally.
Like other environmental justice issues, data show that our communities of color, low-income families, and residents with disabilities contribute least to the problem of climate pollution. Despite this, vulnerable residents are the most at risk from negative climate impacts, especially during flooding events, heat waves, and poor air quality days.
As the county seeks to protect residents most vulnerable to climate change impacts, we acknowledge that those who have the least capacity to respond to climate change will be most affected.
Climate change affects all parts of the county and all residents, businesses, and organizations. Transformative climate policies must be driven and supported by the public. To advance an impactful climate change response, we need to engage residents, listen to how climate change is impacting them, and collectively build support for solutions. Defining and articulating our collective vision for a climate-friendly future is critical to motivate collective action.
New green infrastructure on land and property that Hennepin County owns and manages will help respond to projected changes in precipitation. Installing, establishing, and maintaining this infrastructure creates an opportunity to train a new green workforce and define new contract standards.
Youth participating in a community engagement session for the Climate Actin Plan suggested providing green job training in schools. They expressed interest in jobs such as building solar panels and working in the renewable energy sector, planting urban gardens and supporting urban agriculture, construction jobs for energy efficiency and extreme weather resiliency, conducting outreach to schools, environmental consultant to companies, transit driver.