To reduce our climate-changing pollution, Minnesota has set goals to cut our collective greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The bipartisan 2007 Next Generation Energy Act set statutory benchmarks to reduce GHG emissions 15% from 2005 levels by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050.
In 2022, Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework updated our goals to reduce emissions 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Individuals, businesses, and local governments across Minnesota are taking major steps to reduce their emissions. As a result, Minnesota's overall GHG emissions decreased 23% between 2005 and 2020. Recent reductions show that collaborative action works, however, there is much work ahead to achieve our GHG reduction goals.
Check out Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework to learn more about our plans to address and prepare for climate change.
Transportation remains our largest source of GHGs
Transportation accounts for approximately 25% of the state’s GHG emissions. GHG emissions in the transportation sector have fallen 18% since 2005. While most of that decrease is attributed to a reduction in vehicle usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, transportation emissions began trending downward in 2018.
Within the transportation sector, more than 70% of emissions come from passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks (including SUVs), and medium- to heavy-duty trucks.
Forests continue to offset agriculture emissions by capturing carbon
Overall, the agriculture, forestry, and land use sector has become the second-largest source of emissions as electricity generation emissions have declined. Forest growth, which captures and stores climate pollution, has offset emissions produced in this sector from animal and crop agriculture.
Agriculture in Minnesota is responsible for most in-state emissions of both nitrous oxide and methane, which have risen since 2005. Minnesota must support farmers in the adoption of best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from activities like growing crops and raising animals.
Electricity generation is a Minnesota success story
Since 2005, emissions from the electricity generation sector have declined by 54%. The significant decrease is mainly a result of producing electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar instead of coal. Minnesota’s utilities have made major commitments to continue the clean energy transition. We can expect emissions to steadily decline from this sector in the coming years.
Industrial emissions have risen
The industrial sector includes direct emissions from industrial facilities, processes, and fuel combustion. GHG emissions from this sector have declined since a peak in 2018 but have increased overall by 14% from 2005 levels. Emissions sources in the industrial sector include fossil-fuel combustion to power factories, taconite processing, and petroleum refining.
With funding and assistance, industrial businesses can be national leaders in changing operations and using greener fuels to reduce GHG emissions.
GHGs from our homes on the rise
Greenhouse gas emissions from Minnesota homes and apartment buildings have increased 14% over the past 15 years. The largest source of these emissions is natural gas, used for home heating and appliances. While emissions from this sector are higher than they were in 2005, they have started to decline since a peak in 2018.
Progress on emissions from businesses
Emissions from the commercial sector, which includes buildings that house businesses and public entities like schools and local governments, have fallen 22% since 2005. The reductions in the commercial sector have been driven in part by the declining use of oil and natural gas in these facilities, which peaked in 2014.
Reducing GHGs from our waste
The waste sector produces about 1% of Minnesota’s GHGs. These emissions come from energy used in waste processing, incinerator fuels, waste incineration, and methane gas from landfills and wastewater treatment. Waste sector emissions have dropped 40% since 2005.