Gov. Polis Releases Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap

Thursday, January 14, 2021

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis released Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap today. Gov. Polis was joined by members of the General Assembly, the clean energy and utility sector, and members of his Cabinet including Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director CDPHE, Will Toor, Executive Director CEO, Shoshana Lew, Executive Director CDOT and other members of the Polis administration. 

“Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap marks a momentous step towards the State’s goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040,” said Governor Polis. “Today’s newly released roadmap builds upon the State’s incredible work over the past two years to achieve a healthier, cleaner Colorado. This roadmap illustrates how Colorado can work to mitigate the climate challenges we are already facing to build a better future for all Coloradans. Colorado’s plan is ambitious but achievable. Through our State’s collective efforts, we can work to build our economy back stronger while protecting and preserving this beautiful state we call home.” 

Governor Polis has made bold climate action and achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040 a top priority for his administration. 

“We are excited to join with other utilities across Colorado in taking major steps to reduce carbon emissions, increase renewables and save our customers money in the process,” said Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin. 

“Our Bighorn Solar project in Pueblo is a concrete example of how the Governor’s leadership in creating state level policy has encouraged renewable energy and reduced harmful GHG emissions,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource bp in the Americas. “Those policies are not only good for the health of Coloradans, but also accelerates the renewable energy industry in Colorado and has spurred hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in the state while creating good paying jobs, and diversifying the Colorado electricity supply with clean and secure energy. Good policies cultivate a strong environment for businesses and results in a growing state economy.”

Read the Executive Summary and the Roadmap

In 2019, Gov. Polis partnered with the Colorado General Assembly to pass 14 pieces of climate legislation, including House Bill-1261, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, which established science-based targets of reducing statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 from 2005 levels. Governor Polis directed state agencies to develop a roadmap to achieving these goals with a whole-of-state effort, focusing particularly on the nearer term 2025 and 2030 targets. At the same time, state agencies have been actively working on multiple initiatives to reduce GHG pollution while simultaneously developing the Roadmap to guide future action.

The Roadmap builds on actions that Colorado has already taken, or are currently underway, to reduce GHG Pollution. Xcel Energy, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Colorado Springs Utilities, Platte River Power Authority, Holy Cross Energy and Black Hills have all made significant commitments to reduce pollution by at least 80% and transition to renewables - all major milestones toward the Governor’s goal of achieving 100% renewable energy in Colorado by 2040. These actions will reduce GHG pollution by more than 32 million tons by 2030.

“In order to make meaningful progress towards our climate action goals, we need a specific, actionable plan that prioritizes equity every step of the way. This roadmap is a great step in that direction,” said Senator Faith Winter (D-Westminster). “People most affected by climate change need a seat at the table and I look forward to working with the Governor to ensure that community engagement remains at the heart of our planning process. Climate change is the most existential threat that we face, but together we can reverse its devastating effects and protect the planet for generations to come.”  

The state adopted Low Emission Vehicle standards in 2018 and Zero Emission Vehicle standards in 2019. As older vehicles are replaced with more efficient and zero emission vehicles, modeling projects a 6-million-ton reduction in GHG pollution by 2030.

“Although we made a lot of progress in the 2019 session by setting ambitious emissions reduction goals, we still have much work to do to put together the pieces of the roadmap and ensure we actually reach these targets," said Senator Chris Hansen (D-Denver). "Specifically, we must do more to rapidly develop renewable energy resources and interconnect the regional grid. This will reduce our emissions and reduce costs for ratepayers. I look forward to tackling these challenges head on this session."

In 2019, the Colorado General Assembly passed SB 19-181, which strengthened the state’s commitment to regulating emissions from the oil and gas industry by creating a statutory requirement for the AQCC to obtain emissions data from oil and gas operators and to minimize emissions in the sector. The AQCC has launched a rulemaking to achieve over 50% pollution reduction by 2030, a 12 million ton reduction

“Climate change and its consequences don’t affect all communities equally. Communities of color are often the hardest hit by the devastating effects of a changing climate, and we in the legislature have worked hard to put equity at the forefront of our state’s efforts to reduce emissions,” said State  Representative Dominique Jackson.  “As we begin to implement and continue to perfect the Roadmap presented today, I’m more motivated than ever to keep working with the Governor, our state agencies and my colleagues in the legislature to ensure this vision of climate equity becomes a reality. I am truly grateful to the Governor and his team for the effort and dedication that went into today’s announcement, and I’m excited to continue our work together.”

In 2020, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission promulgated its far-reaching Mission Change rulemaking to implement a large portion of SB 19-181. This rulemaking process shifted the focus of the regulations from fostering the industry to regulating it in the public interest and in a manner protective of public health, safety, the environment and wildlife. Among other things, these Mission Change rules prohibit routine flaring and venting of methane gas, require reporting of cumulative emissions, and require plans for control.

“Coloradans have a unique connection to our state’s environment. The Governor’s roadmap is an important step in moving Colorado to a more sustainable future. The legislature set bold goals, and by working together to implement this legislation, we will keep Colorado on the path to reduce carbon and deliver on our promise to address this most important issue that affects us all,” said Representative Alex Valdez. 

In 2020, the Air Quality Control Commission also adopted rules requiring the phaseout of hydrofluorocarbons, a very potent greenhouse gas pollutant widely used in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning.


Key steps to achieving 2030 targets

  • Continue swift transition away from coal to renewable electricity
  • Make deep reduction in methane pollution from oil & gas development
  • Accelerate the shift to electric cars, trucks, and buses
  • Make changes to transportation planning and investment and land use planning to encourage alternatives to driving
  • Increase building efficiency and electrification
  • Reduce methane waste from landfills, wastewater, and other sources
  • Ensure that disproportionately impacted Coloradans benefit from pollution reduction in their communities and new economic opportunities from clean energy

Through a year-long public process, in conjunction with consulting support and a technical advisory group, state agencies created a plan for near term actions that will meet Climate Action Plan goals. To ensure a just and equitable transition to a low carbon economy, Colorado also established the nation’s first Office of Just Transition and is working with stakeholders to develop a Climate Equity Framework.            

The state has held  Public Listening Session with 600 participants, over 2,000 email comments over 50 stakeholder meetings, more than 50 and held multiple briefings and public comment opportunities at the Air Quality Control Commission.