Multiple state agencies will eye adaptation, mitigation strategies
Colorado’s new climate plan calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach, with various state agencies working together, and with the public, to address the potential impacts of rising temperatures.
Acknowledging that average temperatures in the state could rise by as much as 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius in the next few decades, Gov. John Hickenlooper called on Colorado make preparations now.
“Colorado is facing a potential increase in both the number and severity of extreme weather events,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “We’ve seen what Mother Nature can do, and additional risks present a considerable set of challenges for the state, our residents, and our way of life. This comprehensive plan puts forth our commitment from the state and sets the groundwork for the collaboration needed to make sure Colorado is prepared.”
The Colorado climate plan focuses on seven main sectors including water, public health, energy, transportation, agriculture, tourism and recreation, and ecosystems. Even the Colorado Tourism Office well get in on the act, holding a session on climate change during its annual meeting in Crested Butte.
Various branches of state government have specific assignments:
- The CDPHE, following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Clean Power Plan, will expand outreach to stakeholders, government agencies, and interested Coloradans in a public process to develop and implement a state plan to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel fired EGUs. The CDPHE will host meetings and solicit public comment to gather ideas and attempt to reach some consensus on the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions while preserving or enhancing electric grid reliability and the economy.
- The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will serve as the public forum for future conversations on fish and wildlife adaptation. The Commission will schedule a series of conversations in the next year to hear recommendations from experts and the public about science and management options to inform management decisions.
- The CWCB will continue to be a leader on climate change adaptation in the water sector and will host an open discussion with experts and the public on climate change at a board meeting(s) during fiscal year 2016. CWCB staff will also engage with stakeholder groups around the state to gather feedback on this plan and recommendations to explore and enhance future actions.
- The CEO, in conjunction with the Public Utilities Commission, will continue to serve as subject matter experts concerning energy efficiency technologies, markets, and practices involving electric utility end-users. In this role, Colorado Energy Office will convene one or more forums over the next year to engage stakeholders and ensure energy efficiency options best fit within a compliance plan for the state. The development of these forums will also include collaboration with the CDA, who has partnered with the CEO on several energy programs.
- The DOLA will deliver trainings to local government planners and emergency managers on integrating information regarding changing hazard risks and resilience principles into local plans and land use codes using their forthcoming Colorado Hazard Mitigation and Land Use Planning Guide as a framework.
- The Colorado Tourism Office will include as session on climate change as part of the agenda at their annual conference. The conference will be held in Crested Butte in September.
- The CDA will work with the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts to provide an informative, science-based panel and discussion at the annual conference for conservation districts to explore the projected climate change impacts on production agriculture in Colorado and steps that can be taken to adapt and prepare for those changes.
- The CDOT will work with the State Transportation Advisory Commission to develop a stakeholder engagement process to take place over the next year.
Moving forward, the Colorado climate plan will serve as a roadmap for state agencies to confront some of the worst effects of climate change and identify priority actions. The state will work to ensure the plan complements other relevant efforts, including the Climate Change in Colorado Report, and the Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study.
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 EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Colorado’s own initiatives.”
“This plan outlines many steps state agencies can take – and are taking – to both reduce the emissions that affect our climate and prepare for the potential impacts that temperature and weather changes may have on our economy and lifestyle in Colorado,” said Mike King, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources.
“This plan highlights the results to date of Colorado’s leadership in innovative energy production and efficient energy consumption,” said Jeffrey Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office. “Our continued progress is reinforced by forward-thinking policies like the renewable energy standard, strong public-private partnerships and creative strategies to foster new market development.”
The Colorado Climate Plan, along with additional information related to the state’s response to climate change is available at http://cwcb.state.co.us/environment/climate-change/Pages/main.aspx.