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Colorado environmental groups offer lawmakers a plan on climate change

Author: Joey Bunch - September 20, 2017 - Updated: September 19, 2017

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Climate change Colorado(Courtesy of Western Resource Advocates and Conservation Colorado)

Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates and Denver-based Conservation Colorado are releasing a report Wednesday that analyzes policies the legislature and state agencies could adopt to reduce carbon pollution and help fight off climate change.

The document backs goals set by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in his July executive order on climate change.

The report shows asks current and future legislators to:

  • Adopt a statewide goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and by 90 percent by 2050. (Hickenlooper’s order set a goal of a 26 percent reduction by 2025, “but we must build on that by establishing pollution limits for 2030 and 2050,” the two environmental groups said in a joint statement.)
  • Advance policies that reduce carbon pollution in electricity, transportation, industrial, commercial and other sectors.
  • Enact a market-based cap on carbon pollution. The groups cited a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program as possibilities.

The full report should be  available on both organizations’ websites today.

While interesting goals, the proposals have little chance of getting through the current legislature. Democrats hold a solid House majority, a nine-seat edge in the 65-member chamber, but Republicans control the Senate, 18-17. The statehouse GOP won’t budge on their support for oil and gas production. They look upon such recommendations from the left with extreme skepticism.

Next year, however, is an election that should shift the balance of power, potentially putting a Republican in the governor’s office, or Democrats could take the majority in the Senate.

Climate-change activists point to the high stakes.

”Climate change is already causing more severe wildfires, droughts, flooding and other harm to our communities and current carbon pollution reduction plans are not enough to avoid even more severe impacts in the future,” Jon Goldin Dubois, president of Western Resource Advocates, said in a statement. “Our state, businesses, local governments, and communities need to get behind comprehensive statewide action on climate change to reduce carbon pollution by 45 percent by 2030 and to ensure a healthy and resilient economy.”

Pete Maysmith, the executive director of Conservation Colorado, the state’s largest environmental organization, said the report offers a path forward on climate change.

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s important actions on climate change this summer set us on the right path, and now we need to embrace the challenge and implement specific policies that grow our clean energy economy and defend against the impact of climate change that we’re already feeling in our state.”

Here is the governor’s executive order on climate change.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.