Public engagement on the Climate Action Plan
Internal and external engagement was conducted throughout the plan development. The county’s approach to engagement began with internal coordination, then expanded to include public entity and community group partners, and then residents and businesses more broadly.
The first phase of public engagement in November 2020 including a series of feedback sessions with community groups, youth, and the county’s Race Equity Advisory Council and a public survey.
The second phase occurred in February and March 2021 with feedback gathered through community meetings, an online comment form, and a survey for public entity partners.
See Appendix B starting on page 71 of the Climate Action Plan (PDF) for a summary of the public engagement findings.
Public comment period in February and March 2021
In this phase of public engagement, anyone interested in the county’s response to climate change was encouraged to attend an online meeting or submit comments. Feedback was received from residents, representatives of community organizations and advocacy groups, and staff from state agencies, cities, and watershed districts.
The public engagement process generated more than 1,000 ideas and comments that informed updates to the plan and will guide the county’s climate action work going forward.
See a summary of the key findings and calls to action (PDF). All of the verbatim comments are available in the Appendix (PDF).
Significant changes made in the plan
The following are key changes that were made to the plan based on the feedback from the public and commissioners:
Set a more ambitious overall goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Added new strategies in the Goal: Enhance public safety to more clearly define the need to support a stronger energy infrastructure and disaster plans that support basic lifesaving resources.
Expanded on the strategies for protecting natural resources, using green infrastructure, planting and maintaining trees, and increasing carbon sequestration
Made the following significant updates to the Goal: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
- Defined stretch goals in a number of key metrics:
- Carbon-free electricity in county operations by 2035
- Regional on-site solar goal of 10% by 2030
- Net zero county fleet by 2050
- Plant 1 million trees by 2030
- Acquire 6,000 additional acres of conservation easements by 2040
- Added a strategy to advance the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s goal of 20% reduction in vehicle miles traveled by 2050 by developing a more ambitious goal for Hennepin County that reflects our role in the state as a more densely populated county and also reflects rural, suburban, and urban contexts within Hennepin County.
- Added a strategy to update the county’s Complete Streets policy to develop a modal hierarchy framework that prioritizes transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Added strategies to advance fuel-switching (building electrification) and getting to carbon-free electricity.
- Added strategies to achieve zero-waste goals faster, including more specifics about organics recycling services, ways to reduce gaps in recycling service at multi-unit housing, and policy advocacy work. Staff also defined the county’s position on the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) and its role in mitigating climate change.
- Expanded on carbon sequestration strategies to highlight opportunities both on county properties and in partnership with private landowners.
Community engagement conducted in fall 2020
The first phase of community engagement was conducted in fall 2020.
In November 2020, staff held a series of feedback sessions with community groups, youth, and the county’s Race Equity Advisory Council. A total of 84 people shared feedback on the climate action plan’s foundational strategies, impacts the community has experienced from climate change, and their priorities for a climate-friendly future.
Review a summary of the feedback received (PDF).
The county also conducted an online survey for residents that received more than 2,300 responses to learn about impacts the community has experienced from climate change and understand residents’ priorities to inform the plan. The survey also asked about actions residents are already taking and what actions they are interested in taking to mitigate climate change, which will be used to shape future outreach on the plan and guide the county’s education efforts on climate action.
Review a summary of the survey findings (PDF).
How the findings were used
The summaries were shared with county commissioners, county administrators and climate team leads. Staff reviewed the findings and refined the plan’s goals and strategies based on the feedback received.
In reviewing the engagement findings, three key findings rose to the top of our analysis and were shared with county commissioners to consider in their review of the county’s climate action goals and strategies:
- Set ambitious goals and provide bold leadership
- Climate change is intersectional with racial disparities
- Focus on systems change, not individual choice
Implications to guide next steps
As thee county develops action plans for implementation of the strategies outlined in the plan, the following implications from public engagement process will guide the work:
- Create specific action plans for strategies included in the plan to provide details on how the work will be accomplished and who is responsible.
- Refine metrics the county, community, and public can use to measure progress.
- Engage residents, listen to how climate change is impacting them, and collectively build support for solutions.
- Conduct education on the impacts of climate change and increase awareness about the urgency of the issue.
- Make community engagement efforts during plan implementation multi-faceted, robust, and consistent to build community buy-in and trust.