Dec 7, 2020

It All Adds Up: Emissions from Minnesota's natural gas consumption


About this Research

Since its founding, CEE has focused on energy use in the building sector. Increasingly, we have recognized the important role that the building sector emissions play in our collective efforts to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals as well as how addressing those emissions can benefit our economy and communities. As reflected in our recently published 2040 vision, equitable decarbonization of the building sector and industry is necessary to meet the urgent climate challenge.

In 2007, Minnesota set ambitious goals to reduce Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050 over 2005 levels. Since that time, scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have determined that even more aggressive action is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The latest IPCC report calls for essentially zero global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Since 2007, Minnesota has made great progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity supply. Building on those successes, we see the likelihood of almost eliminating electric sector emissions by 2040. Unfortunately, we have made little progress in other sectors and have actually seen increased emssions in the building and industrial sectors.

Natural gas is the primary source of space and water heating in Minnesota’s buildings and the fuel of choice for many of Minnesota’s large businesses. Natural gas is also the primary driver of increased emissions in Minnesota’s buildings and industry.

CEE conducted an analysis of lifecycle emissions resulting from natural gas consumption in Minnesota’s residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. The results of this analysis demonstrate that Minnesota cannot meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals without working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas consumption in these sectors in the near future.