The information below summarizes actions taken by Minnesota to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Although Minnesota has not adopted an official statewide climate adaptation plan, the state has undertaken many activities to consider climate impacts across a range of programs and initiatives.  

Since July 2009, Minnesota state agencies have been collaborating on climate adaptation efforts through the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT). ICAT includes representatives from a number of Minnesota state departments and agencies, including Agriculture, Commerce, Health, Military Affairs, Natural Resources, Pollution Control, Public Safety, and Transportation, as well as the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Metropolitan Council. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) coordinates ICAT, and MPCA has an internal Climate Adaptation Team working on climate resilience strategies for the state as well.

In 2019, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 19-37 (EO) to establish a Climate Change Subcabinet comprised of leaders from 15 state departments and agencies. The Subcabinet is tasked with identifying state policies and strategies to build climate resilience and significantly mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The EO acknowledges the disparities facing overly burdened populations, and commits Minnesota to develop climate adaptation strategies with and for frontline communities. 

The EO also established a Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change, which is comprised of 15 community leaders and stakeholders across different sectors tasked with advising the Subcabinet. The Advisory Council addresses the feasibility of effective implementation of the Subcabinet’s proposed climate policies. The Council will also track and promote equity by determining how climate change impacts affect communities across the state.

State Planning

In 2010, ICAT released its first report, Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota — Preliminary Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team, which synthesizes how climate change may affect Minnesota. The report includes an inventory of past, current, and proposed state agency adaptation actions for key sectors including: agriculture, energy, health, natural resources, water, and transportation

In 2013, ICAT updated and expanded the scope of this report with the Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota — 2013 Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team.

In May 2017, ICAT updated its 2013 report with current analyses of climate impacts on the state and strategic adaptation planning in the 2017 Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota report. The 2017 report describes state agency activities focused on climate adaptation, presents statewide climate adaptation indicators, and provides recommendations for future state action and interagency collaboration.

Later in 2017, ICAT convened workgroups to engage stakeholders about what actions the state should take to make progress on each of the six recommendations in the 2017 report. While these reports highlight actions the state is undertaking to prepare for and adapt to climate change and provide guidance on how the state should pursue future adaptation efforts, none of these reports have been formally adopted as the state’s official adaptation plan.

State Agency Planning

Individual state agencies have also pursued climate adaptation planning.

In 2014, Minnesota updated the State Hazard Mitigation Plan to include consideration of the compounding impacts of climate change for each of the primary natural hazards experienced in the state. Section 3.53 — “Adapting to Climate Change” — provides an overview of all Minnesota’s prior and ongoing state-level actions to prepare for and adapt to climate change. In 2019, MCAT worked with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to include recommended actions for climate change adaptation in an updated version of the State Hazard Mitigation Plan

In 2014, the Minnesota Department of Health released a Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment that characterized how climate change impacts, like extreme heat, air pollution, drought, and flooding, will impact the state’s public health, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Health formed an internal adaptation working group, which created a five-year Strategic Plan to Adapt to Climate Change in 2010 (and updated in August 2016) and a Climate and Health Profile Report in 2015, that provides a comprehensive assessment of climate change impacts and potential health implications for the state.

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) included climate change impacts in its 2015-2025 Strategic Conservation Agenda. Through the state’s Sentinel Lakes Program, DNR and MPCA are collecting climate, lake habitat, and fish population data on 25 Minnesota lakes in order to detect how lakes are changing in response to climate change. 

In 2018, MPCA adopted a five-year cross-agency climate adaptation goal in its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan: "Act on opportunities to increase resilience of communities and the environment to climate change impacts." This goal will influence the assessment of risks and the strategic actions taken by MPCA's regulatory and assistance programs to protect and improve the water, land, and air and enhance human health. 

State Support for Local Adaptation

The state is also working with local governments, through the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, to facilitate the adoption of best practices for sustainability and resilience. Through the GreenStep program, Minnesota cities get technical assistance and recognition for adopting best practices for planning for climate impacts, increasing energy efficiency, making buildings greener and more resilient, and fostering green businesses and jobs, among other practices.

The Minnesota Department of Health also developed an Extreme Heat Toolkit to provide information, tools, and resources to help local governments and public health professionals prepare for and respond to increasing incidences of extreme heat events, based upon future climate projections. The toolkit also helps local officials identify populations that face the greatest public health risks from extreme events by detailing a range of “characteristics that increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.”

 

This page highlights the actions Minnesota is taking to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Minnesota prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in preparing for the impacts of climate change, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

 

(Research last updated: July 28, 2021).

 

 
 
 

State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
MN EO 19-37: Establishing the Climate Change Subcabinet and the Governor's Advisory Council on Climate Change to Promote Coordinated Climate Change Mitigation and Resilience Strategies in the State of Minnesota Law and Governance December 2, 2019

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
Minnesota State Hazard Mitigation Plan 2019 - Including Recommended Actions for Climate Change Adaptation Emergency preparedness, Land use and built environment, Public health, Transportation, Water resources March 18, 2019
Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota: 2017 Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team May 2017
Minnesota State Hazard Mitigation Plan Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment March 14, 2014
Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota - 2013 Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Forestry, Land management and conservation, Public health, Transportation, Water resources November 2013
Minnesota Water Sustainability Framework Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Cultural resources, Land use and built environment, Tourism and recreation, Water resources January 15, 2011
Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota - Preliminary Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team Biodiversity and ecosystems, Energy, Land use and built environment, Public health, Tourism and recreation, Transportation, Water resources August 2010

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
Minnesota DOT Flood Mitigation Program Solutions
Minnesota Climate and Health Profile Report Assessments February 2015
Minnesota Options to Increase Climate Resilience in Buildings Solutions January 2015
Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Assessments October 13, 2014
Rebuilding Minnesota Highway 210 near Jay Cooke State Park Solutions November 2013
Minnesota Extreme Heat Toolkit Solutions June 6, 2012
Minnesota GreenStep Cities Solutions June 2010
 

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