Governor Updates State's Climate Plan

Gov. John Hickenlooper released an updated edition of the Colorado Climate Plan, a statewide set of policy recommendations and actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to increase Colorado’s level of preparedness. 

The revised Colorado Climate Plan reflects advances in the discussion on how best to address climate change at the state level as well as progress since the release of the initial plan in 2015; it also takes into account changes in both global and federal climate policy. The updated plan wraps in the objectives contained in Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order from July 2017 that committed the state to additional climate action. 

“Colorado is committed to doing its part to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our climate,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “A lot is at stake for Colorado’s quality of life, its economy and its environment. This updated edition of our Climate Plan includes measurable goals that we are setting for our state and draws on the collaborative efforts of our state agencies to face the considerable set of challenges posed by our warming climate.” 

Gov. Hickenlooper released the updated Climate Plan as part of his participation in the Colorado Communities Symposium in January. The symposium, attended by dozens of elected officials representing Colorado cities and counties, featured a series of town hall discussions and educational programs related to climate preparedness and clean energy development. 

Colorado has warmed substantially in the past 30 years, and even more in the past 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 reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a broad range of possible impacts from multiple sectors. 

The Colorado Climate Plan focuses on eight main areas including water, public health, greenhouse gas emissions, energy, transportation, agriculture, tourism and recreation, and ecosystems. The plan also includes a chapter on partnerships, highlighting ways local governments and businesses are playing a significant role. 

Some of the plan’s recommendations include: 

  • Water: Incorporate climate variability and change into long-term, statewide water planning efforts; and promote and encourage water efficiency and drought preparedness; and identify climate change risks related to integrated water quality and water quantity management. 
  • Public Health: Evaluate and adopt additional ozone control measures as needed to attain federal standards and continue to assess potential correlations between climate change, vector-borne diseases, heat-related illness and harmful algal blooms. Incorporate the results into public health guidance and communicate any revised risk reduction measures to local governments and the public. 
  • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions: Propose a state GHG-reporting rule by Dec. 30, 2018, that mirrors current federal requirements; and prepare annual updates to Colorado’s GHG inventory as needed to track progress toward Colorado’s climate goals. 
  • Energy: Work with utilities to maximize the use of renewable energy, while maintaining reliability and without increasing costs to consumers; and increase access to capital for commercial, residential, agricultural, and industrial customers seeking to improve the energy performance of their facilities. 
  • Transportation: Implement the statewide Electric Vehicle Plan to build out key charging corridors that aligns with the environmental mitigation trust from the Volkswagen settlement; and support new technology and planning process considerations to reduce GHG emissions by improving traffic operations for improved safety, mobility and reliability. 
  • Tourism: Encourage broader business continuity planning to include preparedness and post-disaster strategies; and partner with federal, regional and local agencies and entities to preserve and protect forest health and wildlife habitat, and to reduce wildfire risk. 
  • Partnerships: Formalize and expand upon cross-agency efforts to provide economic development strategies and other supportive services to communities impacted by a changing energy landscape; and develop a resilience and climate adaptation financing toolkit for communities to identify opportunities to implement resilience actions. 
  • Ecosystems: Encourage forest management on private, state and other lands to help capture and store carbon, reduce wildfire and insect/ disease risk, improve wildlife habitat, and achieve other forest management objectives; and develop strategies to reduce impacts of climate change in aquatic systems through stream-habitat improvement and connectivity. 
  • Agriculture: Support federal and state programs that improve soil health, and examining state and local land-use policies that reduce soil erosion on arable lands. 

Moving forward, the Colorado Climate Plan will serve as a roadmap for state agencies to confront some of the most challenging effects of climate change and identify priority actions. The state will work with local governments and the private sector to proactively reduce emissions, improve public health, and keep consumer costs low. 

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 Colorado initiatives.” 

"This updated plan reflects the state’s ongoing work to develop both general strategies and create specific goals to reduce emissions and prepare for impacts,” said Bob Randall, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Our efforts must continually adapt to new circumstances and knowledge.” 

Contributing agencies include the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Energy Office, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado Tourism Office, and Colorado Department of Local Affairs, along with input stakeholders through a public comment period. 

The plan, developed to meet the requirements of HB 13-1293, lays out many of the ways the state is working to find solutions. The Colorado Climate Plan, along with additional information related to the state’s response to climate change is available here.