What does a Climate Action Plan mean for Colorado?

By: Asheton Gilbertson
  • Wind turbines on rolling hills during a clear day

Thanks to your support, in 2019, Colorado’s Climate Action Plan — the most significant climate change bill in Colorado history — became law!

The Climate Action Plan (House Bill 1261) puts Colorado on a path toward cleaner air, healthier communities and a zero-carbon future. But, we still have work to do to ensure this law reaches its full potential.

This legislative session, the Air Quality Control Commission is making rules to determine the details of the Climate Action Plan. And they need to hear from you!

Tell the AQCC to adopt bold climate rules!

The benefits of ambitious climate policies are countless, but some are so clear they deserve special recognition. Here are three key ways the Climate Action Plan will help Colorado tackle climate change and build a better future for our kids and grandkids.

The Climate Action Plan will:

1) Limit Carbon Pollution

Heavy industry emitting carbon pollutionReducing carbon pollution is critical to protecting our way of life. Numerous studies show we have a small and shrinking window — 12 years — within which to prevent the most damaging impacts of climate change.

The Climate Action Plan sets science-based reduction targets to cut carbon pollution at least 26 percent by 2025, 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 compared to 2005 levels in order to limit warming and its harmful impacts.

Dirty air costs millions of dollars in health expenses and years of life, but cleaning it up yields huge benefits for millions of people.

Each year, at least 3.5 million Coloradans are exposed to unhealthy air pollution and its many health-related impacts including asthma, respiratory problems, and lung disease. Projections show carbon pollution-fueled increases in smog and wildfire smoke will exacerbate these impacts while extreme temperatures will cause a spike in the number of heat-associated illnesses and death.

Cutting carbon emissions ensures that Colorado does its part to avoid a climate crisis and leave a clean, healthy environment for future generations.

2) Save money for Colorado

Wind turbines on rolling hills during a clear dayTo put Colorado on track to achieve these targets, the climate plan directs our state’s public health and air quality experts at the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to find the best, most economical ways to reduce emissions. The plan calls on state regulators to work hand-in-hand with elected officials and industry leaders to ensure that these solutions are cost-effective — one of the many reasons major employers, businesses, and investors across Colorado strongly support this policy.

Decarbonizing our economy presents immense opportunity for our state. Colorado’s clean energy industry is significant and growing, employing more than 62,000 workers and attracting multi-million dollar investments in addition to saving ratepayers an average of 15 to 50 percent on energy costs.

Establishing policies to meet our carbon reduction targets will help Colorado’s clean energy economy continue to grow by driving innovation, job creation and further cost savings for consumers. This will allow us to reinvest in our businesses, employees, and the communities in which they operate.

3) Prioritize Environmental Justice

Residential development with blue skies in the backgroundThe negative impacts of carbon pollution directly affect the health and wellbeing of people across Colorado. But not all communities or individuals are affected in the same ways. Lower-income communities and communities of color who are already more likely to experience chronic health conditions and greater exposure to harmful pollution will be disproportionately burdened by climate change.

Colorado’s Climate Action Plan addresses this inequity by requiring public health leaders to identify specific strategies for reducing emissions in frontline communities and seeking their direct input on how to best do so. These strategies will help communities craft local solutions to protect their residents from climate change.

Map of climate change readiness based on Colorado's counties

Just 26 of Colorado’s 64 counties have a plan for climate action. Source: Colorado Health Institute 2019.

This is especially important in a state as unique as Colorado. A recent report found that although climate change impacts vary widely across the state, most communities — more than 59 percent — are unprepared to cope with climate disruptions.

Successfully tackling these changes across Colorado will require policies and approaches that are as diverse as the communities in which they’re created. By accepting public input through robust community engagement processes, the action plan promotes local solutions that are meaningful and inclusive and as a result, more equitable and just.

These are just three ways the Climate Action Plan will benefit Colorado.

What makes you want to take climate action? The Air Quality Control Commission is listening: by using your voice today you can shape a healthier, efficient, more equitable future!