Ramsey County adopts comprehensive climate action plan focused on health equity

People sit at panel conference
Climate action planner Abi Phillips shares details of Ramsey County's new Climate Equity Action plan at a press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Nicole Ki | MPR News

Ramsey County has officially launched a county-wide effort to tackle climate change.

The Climate Equity Action Plan will focus on reducing greenhouse gasses and help communities adapt to changing climate conditions like extreme heat, poor air quality and more severe storms.

At a press conference on Tuesday, deputy county manager Kathy Hedin said the plan recognizes climate change has more negative effects on communities of color, people with limited mobility and people with health complications.

“When there is poor air quality, like fires that aren’t happening here, but we can tell the smoke is here. The extreme heat, flooding and again more disease-carrying insects, people from underrecognized communities often must deal with more negative health effects than others,” said Hedin.

The actions in the plan look at social, economic, physical and health stressors that result from climate change and the effects of racism and oppression, according to Hedin. And the efforts will center on the feedback and engagement of communities in Ramsey County.

Six areas of action are outlined in the climate action plan: clean transportation, thriving communities, healthy lives, clean energy and efficient buildings, climate-smart natural land and clean economy. Each of the areas include immediate and long-term efforts.

What will some of those efforts look like?

Pushing for transportation alternatives like biking, planting more trees in vulnerable communities and increasing composting across the county. County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt said without the plan, climate change will continue to become more severe and increase gaps in health equity.

“I am so excited about this climate equity action plan because it takes one of the largest threats we are all facing and turns it into an opportunity to build health equity across our systems in everything from energy, transportation and land use to jobs,” said Reinhardt.

The county will be hosting a green career and environmental health resource fair at the Wilder Foundation on May 1, which will serve as an opportunity to meet with businesses with sustainable practices and local organizations committed to recycling and creating green space.

The full climate action plan is available on Ramsey County’s website.

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