climate solutions and economic opportunities stakeholder engagement process: background and goals

Minnesota is widely considered a national leader when it comes to climate and energy policy, particularly thanks to the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, which included aggressive goals and associated milestones to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors.

Since passage of the legislation, Minnesota has made progress in reducing emissions, particularly in key sectors like electricity generation and use, yet reaching the long-term goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels will require significant additional action.

In order to meet our goals, the Climate Subcommittee of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) lead a process to inform the public and policy makers as they look for opportunities that will simultaneously grow our economy and reduce greenhouse gases.

climate solutions and economic opportunities analysis

Following passage of the Next Generation Energy Act, stakeholders engaged in a collaborative process known as the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG), facilitated by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), to compile and evaluate a set of recommended policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While some of the MCCAG recommendations and policy options have been implemented in full or in part, many have yet to be translated into action.

In the first phase of the Climate Solutions and Economic Opportunities (CSEO) process the EQB Climate Subcommittee, made up of the Pollution Control Agency, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health, and citizen members, worked with CCS and experts from across state government to analyze an updated set of Minnesota-specific strategies. These strategies cut across economic sectors, including electric supply; commercial, residential, and industrial demand-side energy management; transportation and land use; agriculture; forestry; and water and waste management. The analysis looks at each strategy’s:

  • Potential to reduce greenhouse gases
  • Projected societal costs and savings
  • Projected indirect effects on the economy

The analysis was designed through a process of interagency collaboration and public input, including an EQB Climate Subcommittee meeting in which the subcommittee solicited new ideas from stakeholders that were not examined in 2008. Options were considered and narrowed based on data limitations and the expertise of CCS and agency staff. Some of the strategies that were analyzed are in statute or are taken from publicly vetted state agency plans. However, some of the options had not had previous examination and the analysis aims to provide more information that will inform ongoing discussions.

stakeholder engagement

Engagement of stakeholders is critical to the development of greenhouse gas emissions reduction activities that are both politically viable and poised for successful implementation. Following completion of the CSEO analysis, Environmental Initiative convened a set of meetings in which the EQB and CCS will share the results and gather feedback. While it is not expected that all of the options being explored will be formally proposed, the intention is to provide multiple opportunities for stakeholders to share ideas, information, and perspectives on what it would look like to implement the strategies analyzed in CSEO. For each of the proposed emissions reduction opportunities, stakeholder discussions explored:

  • The environmental, health, economic, and social justice dimensions
  • The role of local, state, and federal governments; the role of the private sector; and the role of individual citizens in implementation—and opportunities for partnership across sectors
  • Any barriers that may exist to implementation, including needs for further research and development (R&D)

A series of large informational events and smaller working sessions to obtain input and discuss emissions reduction options were held between November 2014 and February 2015.