DENVER — Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper, business and industry leaders and department directors today released the Colorado Climate Plan, a statewide strategy of policy recommendations and actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to increase Colorado’s level of preparedness.
“Colorado is facing a potential increase in both the number and severity of extreme weather events,” said Hickenlooper. “We’ve seen what Mother Nature can do, and additional risks present a considerable set of challenges for the state, our residents, and our way of life. This comprehensive plan puts forth our commitment from the state and sets the groundwork for the collaboration needed to make sure Colorado is prepared.”
Colorado has warmed substantially in the last 30 years and even more in the last 50 years, with projected temperatures rising an additional 2.5 degrees by 2050, as reported by Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation. Rising temperatures pose many challenges to Colorado’s environment, health, economy and infrastructure. In response to these risks, the state developed a plan for mitigating and adapting to a broad range of possible impacts from multiple sectors.
The Colorado Climate Plan focuses on seven main sectors including water, public health, energy, transportation, agriculture, tourism and recreation, and ecosystems. The plan also includes a chapter highlighting ways local governments and businesses are playing a significant role.
Some of the plan’s key recommendations include:
Water: Promote and encourage drought preparedness through comprehensive drought planning mitigation implementation; incorporate climate variability and change into Colorado's Water Plan.
Public Health: Coordinate with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Public Utilities Commission, the Colorado Energy Office, and additional stakeholders to develop and implement a Colorado-specific plan to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel fired EGUs, in accordance with the EPA's Clean Power Plan; continue to assess potential correlations between vector-borne diseases and climate factors.
Energy: Assure the timely and complete attainment of the state's RES 2020 goals; assist all utilities (investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative) in identifying and implementing best practices for integrating cost-effective renewable resources, both utility-scale and distributed; increase access to capital for commercial, residential, agricultural, and industrial customers seeking to improve the energy performance of their facilities.
Transportation: Promote and encourage fuel-efficient vehicle technologies and programs to reduce vehicle emissions; provide guidance to local governments on land use planning strategies to promote efficient use of public resources and reduce GHG emissions through compact, transit-oriented development that utilizes smart growth practices and complete streets.
Agriculture: Partner with research institutions and federal agencies to support producer's efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change through improved irrigation and efficiency and enhanced tillage practices.
Moving forward, the Colorado Climate Plan will serve as a roadmap for state agencies to confront some of the worst effects of climate change and identify priority actions. The state will work to ensure the plan complements other relevant efforts, including the Climate Change in Colorado Report, and the Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study.
Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, "The Climate Plan helps develop our strategies for protecting public health as our climate changes. It also demonstrates our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Colorado’s own initiatives.”
"This plan outlines many steps state agencies can take - and are taking - to both reduce the emissions that affect our climate and prepare for the potential impacts that temperature and weather changes may have on our economy and lifestyle in Colorado,” said Mike King, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources.
Contributing agencies include the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Energy Office, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado Tourism Office and the Department of Local Affairs, along with input from key stakeholders.
"This plan highlights the results to date of Colorado's leadership in innovative energy production and efficient energy consumption,” said Jeffrey Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office. “Our continued progress is reinforced by forward-thinking policies like the renewable energy standard, strong public-private partnerships and creative strategies to foster new market development."
Public and private sector organizations also contributed to the plan including Apt Environmental, Colorado Municipal League, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, Colorado State University/ Colorado Water Institute, Denver Water, Fort Collins Sustainability Group, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, Rocky Mountain Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Western Water Assessment/ CIRES/ University of Colorado, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Xcel Energy and 360 Colorado.
The plan, developed to meet the requirements of HB 13-1293, lays out many of the ways the state is working to find solutions. Each state agency that helped develop the plan will hold public engagement sessions specific to their agency throughout the coming year.
The Colorado Climate Plan, along with additional information related to the state’s response to climate change is available at http://cwcb.state.co.us/