Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper eyes executive order on climate change

Is Colorado a hotspot for global warming?
Is Colorado a hotspot for global warming?

Draft document highlights global warming threats to state

Staff Report

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says a “shifting climate” threatens many of the state’s vital industries, including skiing and agriculture, and he wants the state’s power plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in the next 15 years from 2012 levels. The goals are outlined in a draft version of an executive order on mitigating and adapting to climate change, which spells out some specific threats of global warming that are already well-known, including:

  • Greater air pollution will lead to a more hospital admissions and increased cases of respiratory illness;
  • Changes in precipitation can adversely impact the amount and quality of Colorado’s water resources;
  • Changes in runoff patterns, intense precipitation, and rising temperatures can negatively affect food production and result in greater risk of food contamination and waterborne illness.

In addition to setting specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the draft order would direct state  agencies to incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies into their operations and planning to ensure execution of the strategy and policy recommendations included in the Colorado Climate Plan.

Colorado already has a statewide network of local governments that formed to support local adaptation and mitigation efforts, and Denver has its own climate adaptation plan.

Hickenlooper’s order would create an interagency climate work group, headed by a state climate specialist, would develop specific recommendations for state actions, including any legislation needed to meet the goals of the state climate plan.

But for some climate and environmental activists, the state’s formal acknowledgment of climate change as a threat may be too little, too late. Even though the greenhouse gas cuts spelled out in the draft order are in line with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan,  they fall far short of what’s needed on a global scale to “preserve a livable climate,” according to the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, which says a 100 percent reduction in Colorado greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is needed to meet the world’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100.


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