What is Colorado doing to reach climate goals with limited time?

What’s so special about 2030? Scientists say the years between now and 2030 as a window of opportunity to drastically reduce pollution and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

Colorado has not done enough to put our state on track, but Governor Jared Polis kicked off 2021 with a greenhouse gas roadmap that outlines his vision for cutting pollution. The only caveat — it will only work if our lawmakers follow the pollution reduction roadmap closely to cut emissions from the largest pollution-causing sectors. 

Main Sources of Pollution in Colorado

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, the largest sources of pollution in Colorado are transportation, electricity generation, oil and gas production, and fuel use in residential, commercial, and industrial spaces. To hit our pollution reduction targets, Colorado leaders should pass policies that cut the most pollution in the shortest amount of time. In 2021, that means cutting pollution from transportation, our homes and buildings, and oil and gas.

How much do vehicles contribute to climate change? – 25%

In the last couple of years Colorado hasn’t done enough to track and reduce pollution from cars, trucks, and buses. If we keep up this same pace, we will run out of time before we hit our climate targets. 

Now is the time for Colorado to invest in a 21st Century transportation system — one that supports our health, safety, and climate goals. This is what Coloradans want. In the past we have supported efforts for 100 percent carbon-free power and zero emissions vehicle standards. 

This year during Colorado’s legislative session, our lawmakers can have a direct impact on cutting transportation pollution by increasing fees on polluters, investing in electric vehicle development, providing public transit options, and reducing vehicle demand. 

We need to act quickly, make transportation a priority, and build economic and racial equity. 

How much do buildings contribute to climate change?– 20%

Our state hasn’t taken time to properly address the third-largest source of carbon emissions in Colorado — buildings. Our homes and businesses emit more pollution than oil and gas drilling, coal mining, and manufacturing. Though we might not realize it at first, our building and homes are quiet polluters.

As a state, we aren’t doing enough to track and reduce pollution from buildings — even though we know the vast majority of our buildings cause air pollution both indoors and out. This pollution causes climate change and immediate consequences for the health and safety of frontline communities of color. During a climate crisis, we can’t let quiet polluters go unchecked.

Colorado has a chance to lead the way — once again — in transitioning homes and businesses into a clean energy future and cutting pollution from one of the state’s largest emitting sectors. 

Coloradans deserve to have pollution-free homes by transitioning away from appliances that rely on dirty energy. We can hit our climate targets and start to heal impacted communities by passing laws to make sure buildings track their own pollution, improve energy efficiency and safety, and transition from gas to electric.  

How much does oil and gas contribute to climate change? – 11%

We’ve already seen action taken at the national level to rein in the oil and gas industry, President Biden signed a series of executive orders to fast-track our response to the climate crisis. The pause on oil and gas leasing on public lands is a standard-setting decision that shows us what bold climate action looks like. 

Colorado is one of the top 10 of oil and gas-producing states, and we’ve set a national example in the past by creating the ‘gold standard’ of methane regulation. However, the dirty air from oil and gas activity continues to make climate change worse and actively harm communities, and disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities who are already facing disproportionate levels of COVID-19.

There is a long way to go but if we stay laser-focused on our climate targets while embracing equity and racial justice, we will have a fighting chance to meet the moment. Coloradans want to see their legislators step up and take strong action to combat climate change this upcoming session.