Net Zero by 2050? Yes we can. With the People’s Climate & Equity Plan!

by Danette Knickmeier

Early next year, the City of Minneapolis will be passing an updated version of its Climate Action Plan to reach the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The city also plans to act in accordance with new, science-based data that categorize Minneapolis as a high-wealth, high-emitting city with a responsibility to see aggressive decarbonization, starting in just a few years.

Enter the People’s Climate and Equity Plan (PCEP) — a proposed plan drafted by the Just Transition Fund Coalition, whose members include Sierra Club North Star, MN350 Action, Black Visions, ISAIAH, Take Action MN, SEIU 26, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, Inquilinxs Unidos, Community Power, Cooperative Energy Futures, Environmental Justice Advocates of MN, MN Renewable Now, and Unidos MN.

The coalition seeks to build public support for the PCEP by pressuring the city council to hold corporate polluters (like Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, and others) financially accountable for their carbon pollution. If successful, the PCEP could deliver up to 100 million dollars annually, through polluter taxes that will be put towards emissions reduction programs.

“We see the PCEP as complementary
to the city’s Climate Action Plan and
ultimately as enabling the city’s
climate goals by creating a strong
and sustainable funding stream for
this work.”
-Patty O’Keefe, Sierra Club,
Senior Organizing Representative

A goal of this magnitude can only be achieved with a strong grassroots movement of citizens willing to voice their support through sharing information, contacting city officials, volunteering, and making donations. The results of these efforts will benefit everyone in the city — especially those in marginalized communities — with healthier air, water, and land, lower energy costs, more comfortable homes, offices, and commercial buildings, and new careers in the energy and construction sectors.

To get there, we envision a transition across all sectors of the industry. The funds raised will be invested in a variety of community-focused solutions, such as:

  • Energy retrofits and electrification for residential and commercial buildings
  • Financial support for residents to access solar via rooftop panels or community services, and for those interested in switching to heat pumps and electric water heaters and stoves
  • Investments in BIPOC worker-owned cooperatives and sustainable entrepreneurship
  • Programs promoting clean energy jobs education in Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Monitoring developers that receive funding to ensure they’re hiring union labor, paying fair wages, and participating in programs that support dignity and respect in the building industry
  • Pushing polluting facilities to reduce emissions and transition to healthier practices
  • Increased capital for community investment in designated green spaces
  • Increased access to Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations
  • Workshops and events focused on waste reduction education
  • Creation of a committee to review proposals and select grant recipients for clean energy projects

The PCEP is the beginning of a critical conversation between the city and the people of Minneapolis. Think of it as the Minneapolis version of the Green New Deal. It will fund improvements to homes through renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, create green jobs, and support local businesses.

Council members and Mayor Frey will be ready to pass legislation in March to keep the city on track to reach its goals. The PCEP is the key to getting there — and we’re counting on the residents of Minneapolis to push it over the finish line.

There are numerous ways to support this critical plan and make a positive impact. Please consider helping in one or more of the following ways.