Mitigating a changing climate

State agencies in Minnesota are working together to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and to adapt to changes already occurring. Mitigation is all about limiting the magnitude and progression of climate change. To do this, we need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that warm the atmosphere and surface of the planet.

MPCA’s mitigation approach relies on promoting clean energy and energy efficiency — both of which also create jobs — and developing strategies to reduce pollutants to improve overall air quality as well as to cut GHG emissions.

CO2 is the main greenhouse gas, but the other GHGs have very strong warming effects, including nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and two classes of compounds known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). To compare all the GHGs in common terms to CO2, emissions are multiplied by their global warming potential to produce CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) emissions.

  • Fossil fuel use for generating electricity and fueling vehicles is the largest source of CO2 emissions, but renewable energy production and clean vehicle policies have reduced GHG emissions.
  • Animal and crop agriculture emit the most methane and nitrous oxides. Landfills are also a significant source of methane.
  • Most HFC emissions are from air conditioning.
  • PFCs and SF6 are a small portion of GHG emissions, and are from technical applications.

Though only a small portion of emissions, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6 (among others) are considered to be “high global warming potential gases.” This means that they have much greater potential to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide or other GHGs.

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