By Kathryn Ringham, East Harriet resident

For the past 15 months a climate justice organization, with leadership from MN350, have been coming together from every ward across the city to help shape the new 10-year Minneapolis Climate Action Plan.  The plan is currently under review with the City Council and the mayor, but it remains open to people’s ideas and feedback. The plan is scheduled to be completed in May. It is critical that bold sustainable policies and action steps are taken to create an ecologically healthy and resilient city for future generations.  Climate change is already an emergency.

In a city with some of the worst racial disparities in the country, trying to address climate change without also considering equity and environmental justice will have limited success because the issues are inextricably linked. If done right, the transition to clean energy will narrow those disparities.  We envision a city in which every person—regardless of zip code, race, or ability—lives in an equitable, healthy neighborhood and a safe climate.

Organizing at the ward level with MN350, residents have been meeting with their council members to build relationships, understand their representative’s priorities on climate and equity, and to bring forward a proposal for what should be in the updated climate action plan. Residents  have also organized community meetings, hosted house parties, attended public forums and participated in telephone and online campaigns directed toward council members and the mayor.  MN350 has offered training, support and encouragement to simply talk about climate issues with friends and neighbors that are becoming more prominent and persistent every year.

The results have come together in the People's Climate and Equity Plan, a grassroots proposal to prioritize funding for equitable climate solutions.  

The goals of the People's Climate and Equity Plan are to:

  • Guarantee comfortable, affordable, and carbon-free buildings for all of Minneapolis by 2030.  The majority of greenhouse gas pollution in the city is emitted by buildings, which make up roughly 75% of emissions.
  • Reduce the racial wealth gap by creating access for communities of color to family-sustaining jobs in the growing green economy.  A family-sustaining wage is the income a family needs to cover minimum necessary expenses, including food, child care, health care, housing and transportation.  
  • Ensure every person has a safe, healthy and climate-resilient neighborhood connected by accessible, carbon-free transportation.  Climate resilience is the ability to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
  • Create a robust dedicated funding stream to make bold climate justice policy a reality in the city of Minneapolis.

The adoption of the People's Climate and Equity Plan is especially timely because, at the city level, Minneapolis is currently not on track to meet its climate goals.  There is not a lot of city budget money earmarked for climate solutions, mitigation and environmental justice.  If climate goals are put in the general fund, they are at risk of being deprioritized when they stand side-by-side with other essential services.  

The People's Climate and Equity Plan includes a dedicated fund that would  give the City Council and the communities it serves the necessary funding to accomplish decarbonization goals while holding polluting industries responsible for their actions.  The proposal would require polluting corporations in the metro area to pay their fair share with clean energy infrastructure.  

Neighbors are currently advocating for transformational change within our city.   With new federal dollars available from the Inflation Reduction Act, Minneapolis has the opportunity to future-proof our city.  The People’s Climate and Equity Plan would provide the investment and infrastructure needed for Minneapolis to take full advantage of the federal funding opportunities, regardless of income, race or zip code.  People involved with The People’s Climate and Equity Plan are training and participating in the upcoming City Council caucuses and conventions.

The Ward 13 team is hosting a coffee hour at Alma's Provisions on March 11 at 9:00 a.m. that is open to anyone wanting to learn more about The People’s Climate and Equity Plan work.