Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Sustainability and Public Health

Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation

The Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation project began a conversation about moving Minnesota towards a low-carbon transportation future. Minnesota’s climate is changing, which already affects our health, environment, and economy, with warmer winters and more precipitation being recorded now and forecast to increase in the future.

In 2007, the state passed the bi-partisan Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA) that established goals for the state to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% below 2005 levels by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050. However, the state did not meet our 2015 goal and we are not on track to meet our future goals. Transportation is now the largest emitter of GHGs in the state. To achieve our GHG reduction goals, state-level action is needed and there are many opportunities for immediate action in the transportation sector.

The purpose of Pathways was to explore opportunities for GHG emission reductions from surface transportation: passenger cars and trucks, medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks, buses, motorcycles, and mobile air conditioning.

The Pathways project had three connected parts:

Pathways was a collaboration between state agencies and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Environmental Quality Board, and the McKnight Foundation.

Based on the modeling results and public input, MnDOT developed the following actions and recommendations:


  • MnDOT will create a new Sustainable Transportation Advisory Council (STAC)
  • Minnesota should lead regional collaboration on EV corridors
  • MnDOT should help the state identify clean transportation funding pilot
  • MnDOT will develop and implement a MnPASS incentive pilot project
  • MnDOT will analyze greenhouse gas emissions in transportation projects


  • Adopt clean car standards
  • Strengthen Petroleum Replacement Goals
  • Expand biofuel infrastructure
  • Expand the use of higher biodiesel blends and renewable diesel
  • Facilitate ways to use renewable diesel in Minnesota
  • Create incentives for measures that reduce the carbon impact of biofuels.