Colorado lawmakers want to beef up state climate plan

Global temperatures are rising inexorably. A state climate plan with teeth could ensure that Colorado is doing its part to meet the goals of the 2015 climate agreement reached at the COP21 talks in Paris.

Proposed House Bill 1004 would require state to set measurable targets and report progress annually to lawmakers

By Bob Berwyn

Colorado climate activists and their allies in the State Legislature want to add some teeth to a climate plan released last year by the Hickenlooper administration. The plan acknowledges the impacts and establishes a vague framework for addressing global warming in Colorado, but was criticized for lacking measurable targets.

2015 was by far the hottest year on record for the globe, breaking the record set in 2014. It was the third-warmest year on record for Colorado. The year also saw a modern record set for wildfires, as well as the most widespread bloom of toxin-producing algae ever recorded along the West Coast. In Colorado, scientists recently reported on finding extreme climate change impacts in the state’s alpine zone.

“Colorado is facing a potential increase in both the number and severity of extreme weather events,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said when he released the plan last September. “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.”

Building on that groundwork, House Bill 16-1004, sponsored by sponsored by Representatives Faith Winter ( a Democrat representing Adams County) and Jeni Arndt (Democrat, representing west Fort Collins), would change that and bring Colorado’s climate change efforts in line with the global climate deal reached in Paris last December by requiring the state to set specific goals and to report on the progress toward meeting those targets.

The bill will get a Feb. 4 hearing in front of the House Health, Insurance and Environment committee at 1:30 p.m. in Room 107. Audio of committee hearings are at this web page.

Foremost, the Paris climate agreement calls for global accountability, and the backers of the proposed bill agree.

“A Climate Action Plan should do more than discuss the impacts of climate change on the state. Real measurable goals are needed to augment Colorado’s ability to respond to the threat of climate change,” Conservation Colorado wrote in briefing paper on the bill.

As drafted, H.B. 1004 would require goals that would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and increase Colorado’s adaptive capability to respond to climate change. It would also require the governor to submit an annual report to the State Legislature “on climate change issues generally, the current climate acti  plan developed under this section, and the specific ways in which climate change affects the state.”

The annual report would also include an analysis of the progress toward meeting the targets, and whether the state is on track to meet them.

“By mandating the development of measurable goals with deadlines for completion, Colorado can take meaningful steps towards defending the state against the threats of climate change. Furthermore, by tracking goal achievement, the state will be able to consistently determine which actions will most effectively reduce the impacts of climate change moving forward,” Conservation Colorado wrote in its evaluation of the bill.


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