Climate Action in Colorado
RMCO works to bring about climate action in Colorado--both actions to reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollution and to prepare for the challenges we face as the climate changes. Our current efforts focus on several fronts, as we are workng to bring about:
RMCO has been urging and continues to urge these actions on the administration of Governor John Hickenlooper, through contacts directly with the governor and with other state officials.
All of the actions we are currently proposing build on the framework of our landmark Colorado Climate Project.
Colorado Climate Project
RMCO began our climate-action work in 2005 through our Colorado Climate Project, which still guides many of our efforts. In that project, we brought Coloradans together to develop a common agenda to reduce the state's contribution and vulnerability to climate disruption. As explained more on the following page, we now continue working for climate action in large part by seeking adoption and implementation of the recommendations of a blue-ribbon Climate Action Panel we convened in our Colorado Climate Project and of the elements of the state government's official Colorado Climate Action Plan, which is based in part on the panel's recommendations.
A separate web site for the Colorado Climate Project provides detailed, historical information on the Climate Action Panel and the full text of its report. This page and the next provide an overview of the project.
In June 2005, RMCO decided to undertake the Colorado Climate Project, inspired by similar efforts by state governments in other states, including in particular Arizona and New Mexico. Ours was the first such effort in the nation undertaken by a nonprofit organization. We recruited 10 Project Directors who in the fall of 2006 appointed the 34 members of the Climate Action Panel and charged them with their mission.
To provide the panel with technical expertise and information, as well as facilitation services, we worked in partnership with the Center for Climate Strategies as many state governments have done (and are doing). This was the first time that CCS worked with a private-sector organization, not a governmental entity, to support a blue-ribbon panel developing recommendations for state action. As part of its work, CCS prepared an inventory and forecast of Colorado emissions of heat-trapping gases. The panel reviewed, approved, and relied on the inventory and forecast in doing its work.
The work of the Climate Action Panel was also supported by six Policy Work Groups, comprised of panel members and others. Altogether, counting Climate Action Panel and Policy Work Group members and alternates, 116 Coloradans participated in developing the recommendations that the panel adopted in September 2007.
The panel recommended 70 actions to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare for the possible effects of climate change. As a result of its year-long work, the panel achieved a remarkable degree of consensus, reaching unanimous agreement on 62 of those recommendations, approving six by super-majority votes (with five or fewer objections), and approving two by simple-majority votes. Also, on 10 recommendations one or more panel members recorded what they called "yes-but" votes, expressing qualified approval of them and recording in the report concerns they had about particular aspects of those recommendations.
Of the panel's 70 recommendations, 55 deal with reducing emissions and 15 with adaptation actions.
Of the 55 emission-reduction meaures, 33 were quantitatively analyzed in terms of their emission-reduction potential, and of those 28 were analyzed in terms of their costs or savings. (Some recommended actions, such as public-education efforts, were not susceptible to those kind of analyses.)
The recommendations that were analyzed in terms of cost-effectiveness would produce overall savings to Coloradans of $2.6 billion by 2020.
One key panel recommendation is that the state should set goals to reduce Colorado's emissions by 20% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels. The recommendations that were analyzed in terms of emission-reduction potential would, by themselves, achieve three-quarters of the reductions needed to meet the 2020 goal.
In October 2007, the Project Directors accepted the panel's report on behalf of RMCO. As Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson, a Project Director, said, “This has been a balanced, nonpartisan, centrist process that has produced a strong consensus about the things we can do to reduce our contribution and vulnerability to climate change.”
Within a month, Colorado's Governor, Bill Ritter, Jr., announced his adoption of the emission-reductions goals recommended by the panel and launched the state government's official Colorado Climate Action Agenda to achieve those goals.
The state's plan was described as a beginning. Compared to the 55 recommendations for reducing emissions made by RMCO's blue-ribbon panel, the official Colorado Climate Action Plan:
Compared to our panel's 15 recommendations related to climate preparedness actions, the state's official plan:
For an explanation of our follow-up work on getting action on the panel recommendations from our Colorado Climate Project, see the next page.
The principal sponsors of the Colorado Climate Project were Denver Water, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Ms. Pat Stryker. The sponsors were Aspen Skiing Company's Environment Foundation, the City of Aspen, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and the Rockefeller Family Fund. The Colorado Climate Project would not have been possible without their support.