Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate

Advocating strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emission to a level supportive of a livable climate.

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Open Letter to Colorado’s Congressional Delegation

The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) sent a letter to all nine members of Colorado’s congressional delegation on June 24th, 2019 urging them to work on moving legislation forward in Congress that will address the climate crisis.  Eight of them (Senators Bennet and Gardner; and Representatives DeGette, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn, Perlmutter and Crow) received the letter appended below.  In our letter to Representative Joe Neguse, we thanked him for cosponsoring the Green New Deal Resolution (H. Res. 109), and noted that he is the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to do so, and is also the only one of his nine peers to have signed on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (H.R. 763).

“Given the threat the climate crisis poses to Colorado and the number of bills related to climate issues that were passed by the State General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Polis earlier this year, we are surprised and disappointed by the apparent lack of interest in climate issues on the part of the majority of Colorado’s congressional delegation.  We urge you to sign on as a sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution, and to work on moving legislation forward in the Congress that will address the climate crisis.” –Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate

Dear Senator/Representative —:

The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) is comprised of 26 organizations that collectively develop and advocate strategies for reducing Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions to levels supportive of a livable climate.  Although we focus primarily on State government and utilities operating in Colorado, we considered and adopted positions on two national policy proposals at our meeting held in Loveland on June 15th of this year. Those positions are outlined below.

First, we re-affirmed our support for the Green New Deal Resolution (H. Res. 109 and S. Res. 59), which we voted to support earlier this year when it was first introduced in Congress.  Although we recognize that there is much to be done before the Green New Deal can become a reality, we believe that the level of effort contemplated by its sponsors is what will be required to address the urgent threat posed by the climate crisis at the national level.  We further believe that a Green New Deal could serve as a model for other countries, which will also need both to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions sharply and to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of global warming that are already occurring and will continue to occur.

Second, we voted to support the general concept of a carbon fee and dividend, in which carbon emissions are taxed at the mine mouth or well head and a portion of the receipts are returned to citizens and U.S. residents.  However, we decided that we cannot support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (H.R. 763) in its current form.  Concerns our members expressed regarding this particular bill included a) that the proposed carbon fee, which starts at $15 per ton of equivalent CO2 emissions, is too low, b) the inclusion of provisions suspending certain existing regulations pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions, and c) the failure to direct any of the revenues collected toward federal projects to address the climate crisis.  We will continue to monitor H.R. 763 closely as it makes its way through Congress, and hope that it will be improved to address these concerns.

We note that Joe Neguse is the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation that has signed on as a sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution, and that he is also the only member to have signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 763.  Given the threat the climate crisis poses to Colorado and the number of bills related to climate issues that were passed by the State General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Polis earlier this year, we are surprised and disappointed by the apparent lack of interest in climate issues on the part the majority of Colorado’s congressional delegation.  We urge you to sign on as a sponsor of the Green New Deal Resolution, and to work on moving legislation forward in the Senate/House of Representatives that will address the climate crisis.

According to the United Nations, we have about a decade to reduce our emissions substantially if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.  It’s time for the federal government to start doing its part in confronting this problem.

Sincerely,

COLORADO COALITION FOR A LIVABLE CLIMATE

Gina Hardin (350 Colorado)

Micah Parkin (350 Colorado)

Kevin Cross (Fort Collins Sustainability Group)

Theron Makley (Wind and Solar Denver

 

Ph.  970-419-8944  https://colivableclimate.org

 

 

The Apocalypse Issue

Re: “Lofty goals”, May 26 commentary

Vincent Carroll gets a lot right when he targets “Lofty Goals” of changing over everything to new technology for our energy sources. It has not been easy to move Colorado just this far away from burning stuff for our energy. And getting to 100 percent renewable energy will cost. But as any significant transition, say, indoor plumbing, or road networks, or international travel, those initial costs are seen in retrospect as investments.

Moving toward the new energy economy — simply because the physics of electricity are cleaner, healthier and more efficient — promises a better life for everyone.

Yet, Carroll also skirts the issue of the “apocalypse.” The scientific findings are out there for anyone to read, and a man of Carroll’s intellect should be familiar with them, but he doesn’t seem to be.

We burn fossil fuels today and the stuff lingers in the atmosphere for generations, heating up the air and the oceans. Damage is already done; people are already dying, storms are worse, rains heavier, droughts droughtier and forests in flames, just as predicted decades ago.

The solutions are not one big thing. Business and government must and, in many good examples, are working together. But this climate crisis is also a moral issue for all Americans.

The Republicans tell us that business will take care of us.

The Democrats say the government and business.

But it is a free people who will choose what cost they will bear for their children.

Jeff Neuman-Lee, Denver

 

CCLC Urges Bolder Climate Goals in 2020

Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate news release on May 2nd,  2019

Fort Collins, CO – Yesterday, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution bill, HB 19-1261, received final approval from the legislature, and is now ready for the Governor’s signature. The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) recognizes and appreciates the historic progress the legislature has made this session in attempting to get Colorado to do its part in addressing the looming climate disaster. It is gratified that HB 19-1261 acknowledges the importance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius over the pre-industrial average, as called for by the October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report.

However, the bill’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals are not consistent with that temperature rise limit. Instead, if the goals were achieved worldwide, they would lead to a global average temperature increase of 2° Celsius by 2100, not 1.5° C. Kevin Cross, convener of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, noted that “Although a half degree temperature difference may seem trivial, the October IPCC Report makes clear that a 2 degree warmer world would be far less livable than a 1.5 degree warmer world.”

Micah Parkin, the Executive Director of 350 Colorado noted that “In order to have a 66% chance of achieving this goal, we must achieve worldwide net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.” 350 Colorado President, Gina Hardin, stated, “The risk that climate change will destroy all we hold dear is readily apparent now. The Midwest may take centuries to recover from the massive loss of topsoil from the unprecedented flooding in what has been the world’s breadbasket.  The damage has already cost $3 billion and is rising. Recovery from the infrastructure and economic destruction will take years. Mozambique has just been slammed by an unprecedented two cyclones within 6 weeks. The horror stories go on and on.”

Therefore, the CCLC calls on the legislature to improve upon the goals established by HB19-1261 in 2020 so that they are more in line with what the science is telling us we must do. Specifically, we urge that the legislature move the 50% emissions reduction goal currently set for 2030 up to 2028 compared to 2005 levels. Achieving that goal, together with the 2025 goal of 26% emissions reductions, would put Colorado on track to reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2035.

Our state must adjust its goals in accordance with the best available science to establish Colorado as a true climate leader, for the sake of ourselves and future generations.

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The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) develops and advocates strategies for reducing Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions to levels supportive of a livable climate.  We currently have 26 member organizations located throughout the State of Colorado. Visit our website at https://colivableclimate.org to learn more.

Colorado should set bold climate change goals

Published in the Colorado Independent on April 2nd, 2019

The Colorado General Assembly soon will consider establishing additional climate goals for our state. The bill, HB19-1261, would set goals of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a 90% emissions reduction by 2050, both compared to 2005 levels. The bill also reaffirms the goal set by Gov. John Hickenlooper before he left office: a 26% emissions reduction by 2025.

While the new goals might sound ambitious, the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) is calling for the 2030 goal to be strengthened – instead of 50% reduction by 2030, the CCLC seeks a 63% reduction by then. This higher benchmark aligns with the best available science and would offer a better-than-even chance of limiting the average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degree Fahrenheit) across the globe, if extended worldwide.

The report released last October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes planetary warming must not exceed 1.5 degrees C over the next 20 years. A half degree higher than that could be disastrous. A world that is warmer by 1.5 degrees C would see fewer extreme heat waves and resultant deaths, fewer extreme precipitation events and associated flooding, fewer extreme droughts and attendant forest fires and crop losses, lower sea level rise and associated inundation of coastal areas and islands, and the loss of fewer animal species compared to a world that is 2 degrees C (3.6 Fahrenheit) warmer.

HB19-1261 rightly acknowledges that global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees C.

Unfortunately, the greenhouse gas emissions-reduction goals outlined in the bill would NOT result in limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5° if extended worldwide. Instead, they would result in the greater, 2 degree C global temperature rise. The reason: The emissions reductions are not enough. Some countries would have to cut them more than 63% by 2030 to keep warming to 1.5 degrees C. CCLC believes Colorado should be a good neighbor and share the burden equally with other states and countries. We believe this inconsistency in the bill should be swiftly addressed and remedied by adopting CCLC’s goal of 63% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The existing goal for 2025 plus this more ambitious 2030 goal would put Colorado on a straight line path toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. We recommend that the last emissions-reduction percentage we need to put us over the finish line – net-zero emissions – be set sometime over the next decade.

These cuts – extended worldwide – WOULD be likely to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and thereby most adequately address the climate crisis. The CCLC developed these recommendations in conjunction with Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. These recommendations align closely with those included in the October 2018 IPCC Report for a 66% probability of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C by the end of the 21st century.

HB19-1261 calls for Colorado to exercise “a leadership role” on climate, which would “position its economy, technology centers, financial institutions, and businesses to benefit from national and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.”  The CCLC urges our legislators to establish a true climate leadership role for Colorado by adopting a bold 63% emissions reduction goal for 2030. Our children and future generations will thank them for doing their part to preserve a livable climate.

Kevin Cross and Micah Parkin are spokespeople for the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate.  The CCLC develops and advocates strategies for reducing Colorado’s GHG emissions to levels supportive of a livable climate, and is comprised of 26 member organizations located throughout the State of Colorado.

Oil and gas legislation needs debate of substance

Published in the Denver Post on March 24th, 2019

Re: “Does proposed oil and gas reform go too far or not far enough?” March 17 commentaries by Jon Caldara and Simon Moya Smith

I write in reply to Jon Caldara’s Sunday column on SB-181. There are serious issues here. My comments are not intended to demean Weld County. Mr Caldara calls the bill “an existential threat to Weld County”. He then compares that threat to the “vague, macro-level romantic way the Boulder mafia running Colorado’s government talks about global climate change”.

I will bet there is much more real science data backing climate change than there is data on the economic demise of Weld County – unless the data is paid for by the oil and gas industry. Mr Caldara uses the same arguments paid for by oil and gas to defeat Prop. 112. And that money is out in force again to defeat SB-181, I hear. SB-181 gives local control to Weld County. So will Weld County not get to decide what happens in Weld County under SB-181?

Marc Alston, Denver

CCLC Urges Bolder Climate Goals as New Climate Legislation is Introduced this Week

Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate News Release on March 22nd, 2019

 

Fort Collins, CO – Yesterday, the long-anticipated bill to establish new climate goals for the State of Colorado was released by its cosponsors in the House and Senate.  The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC), a broad coalition of 26 member organizations, supports efforts to address the climate crisis and calls on the General Assembly to adopt bolder climate goals than those currently proposed in the bill in order to be more consistent with a 66% chance of limiting the global average temperature rise no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius  – the maximum recommended in the October 2018 Report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to avoid the most dire climate impacts.

The bill, HB19-1261: Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, recognizes the importance of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius over the pre-industrial average, as called for by the IPCC Report.  The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals set by the bill are not consistent with that temperature rise limit, however. The current bill’s GHG emissions reduction goals are 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050, all compared to 2005 emissions levels.  If these emissions reductions were achieved worldwide, the global average temperature increase by 2100 would be 2° Celsius, not 1.5° C, a difference that would result in significantly worse climate impacts, according to the IPCC report.

The CCLC calls for the 2030 emissions reduction goal to be set at 63% compared to 2005 levels, on a path toward net neutral GHG emissions by 2035.  The 2025 goal currently included in the bill plus this more ambitious 2030 goal that the CCLC is recommending together would allow Colorado to more adequately begin doing its part to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C and address this planetary threat. The cuts recommended by the CCLC were developed in conjunction with Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. If extended worldwide, these GHG reductions would be likely to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

HB19-1261 suggests that Colorado would exercise a leadership role by adopting the emissions reduction targets set forth in that bill. Our state needs to adopt bolder science-based goals that would establish Colorado as a true climate leader, for the sake of ourselves and future generations.

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The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) develops and advocates strategies for reducing Colorado’s greenhouse gas emissions to levels supportive of a livable climate.  We currently have 26 member organizations located throughout the State of Colorado. Visit our website at https://colivableclimate.org to learn more.

Increase in Global Temperature for Four Different Emissions Scenarios

The graph below shows the projected increase in global average temperature above 1850 levels for four different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios.

  • The red line labeled “business as usual” uses Representation Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 emissions projections from the IPCC Fifth Assessment.
  • The orange line labeled “renewable electricity” results from cutting emissions 25% between 2020 and 2040 to represent 100% renewable electricity by 2040. World and Colorado emissions from electric power generation are both approximately 25% of the total.
  • The light green line labeled “90% x 2050” results from cutting emissions 90% below 2005 levels by 2050, starting in 2020. This scenario corresponds to the current version of HB19-1261.
  • The dark green line labeled “recommended” results from cutting emissions 100% below 2005 levels by 2035, starting in 2020. The Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate recommends setting goals for making emissions cuts between 2020 and 2030 that put Colorado on this path to net zero emissions.
  • The tan box shows the 1.5° C – 2.0° C range of “dangerous interference with the climate system” as defined by the U.N Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Conclusion: Only the cuts recommended by the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate – extended worldwide – would be likely to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

Temperature Graph rev2

Projections use a simple calculator that mixes CO2 emissions into the air and removes a fraction by plant growth and ocean uptake.  It then calculates warming over time using a method that closely matches the average projected in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.  Details are available at http://biocycle.atmos.colostate.edu/shiny/FCSG.

NCP4CE Applauds PRPA for goal of 100 percent non-carbon electricity by 2030

 Northern Colorado Partners for Clean Energy Applauds Platte River Power Authority for goal of 100 percent non-carbon electricity by 2030

Utility’s Commitment Comes After 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Commitments in Ft. Collins and Longmont

For Immediate Release: Thursday December 6, 2018

Media Contacts:

Gordon MacAlpine, Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition, ph. 970-342-4668, gmacalpi@trinity.edu

Kevin Cross, Fort Collins Sustainability Group, ph. 970-484-3141, jkevin87@comcast.net

Dick Mallot, Renewables Now Loveland, ph. 970-682-0374, dickmallot@comcast.net

Karen Dike, Sustainable Resilient Longmont, ph. 720-363-7119, karenkdike@gmail.com 

Fort Collins, CO. –  Today, Northern Colorado Partners for Clean Energy (NCP4CE) applauds the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) Board of Directors’ unanimous vote to commit to a goal of a 100 percent non-carbon resource mix by 2030. The board’s vote represents the culmination of years of advocacy for 100 percent clean, renewable electricity from community members living in PRPA’s four owner municipalities of Fort Collins, Longmont, Estes Park and Loveland.  The goal was adopted as part of the utility’s Resource Diversification Policy and approved by the PRPA Board of Directors.

Earlier this year, the cities of Longmont and Ft. Collins both made commitments to reach 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2030. In the past month, the Estes Park Town Board and the Loveland City Council also passed resolutions supporting PRPA’s goal of a 100 percent non-carbon resource mix.

PRPA is the second Colorado utility this week to commit to a carbon reduction goal, following Xcel Energy’s announcement that it will reduce carbon pollution 100 percent by 2050. Colorado is home to nine communities that have committed to clean, renewable electricity. This momentum has pushed the state’s utilities to respond to customer demands for cleaner energy.

“I am thrilled to see the PRPA moving in the right direction. Renewable energy is the path that we must take to reduce the harmful effects of climate change in our communities. The residents of Longmont support this vote by the PRPA and this represents a major step forward to achieving Longmont’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, set forth by the City Council in January,” said Karen Dike, Vice Chair of Sustainable Resilient Longmont.

“We applaud PRPA for hearing the voices of people from across Northern Colorado who are ready to be powered by 100 percent clean electricity. This statement of values from PRPA is encouraging as the utility starts its long term energy planning, and we will continue to voice our vision throughout that planning process for Northern Colorado to shift away from fossil fuels and embrace clean, renewable electricity,” said Kevin Cross with the Fort Collins Sustainability Group.

“We are enthusiastic about this vote on the heels of the Loveland City Council’s support for the PRPA Resource Diversification Policy. We are confident the conditions will be met to see this goal to fruition, and expect it to happen even sooner than 2030. With the economic forces driving renewables further along, it’s exciting to see PRPA moving in this direction that will also benefit our environment,” said Dick Mallot of Renewables Now Loveland.

“Platte River has been a leader in the past, in the early stages of developing hydro and renewable energy; and now it’s fitting that our municipal utility will take advantage of the opportunity to lead again, both economically and environmentally, as Colorado moves toward zero carbon emissions,” added Gordon MacAlpine of the Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition.

The member organizations of the NCP4CE are: 350 Northern Colorado, Colorado Sierra Club, Community for Sustainable Energy, Environment Colorado, the Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition, the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, the Northern Colorado Renewable Energy Society, Renewables Now Loveland, Sustainable Resilient Longmont, and Transition Fort Collins. https://colivableclimate.org/noco-partners-for-clean-energy/

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National Climate Assessment Requires Us to Take Action

Published in the Denver Post on December 2nd, 2018

Re: “Report: Climate change a threat,” November 24th news story

How many times does our government have to hear about the horrors that await us if we don’t tackle climate change? We have the resources; all we need is the political will.  Oh – and a government that gives a hoot about science.  Please, please, don’t let us delay any longer.  The future of the planet depends on us.

Susan Permut, Monument

More than sad

Published in the Denver Post on October 12th, 2018

It is more than sad that The Denver Post has been fooled by the oil and gas industry scare tactics on Proposition 112 — safe setbacks for fracking operations.

There is no way that Prop 112 can be a ban on oil and gas development when Colorado already has over 50,000 wells and these will be unaffected. Moreover, the lateral lines used in fracking can go many thousands of feet, so a 2,500 foot setback is in no way a “ban” on the industry.

It is also more than sad that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Safety seems determined to protect the oil and gas industry over the public health. It is undisputed that fracking often leads to elevated concentrations of benzene in the air. Benzene is a known human carcinogen.

Vote “Yes on Prop 112” for safer setbacks for fracking. Keep oil and gas jobs, but provide safer separation between the jobs and our families, neighborhoods and sensitive environments.

Leslie Glustrom, Boulder

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