DENVER — After two climate modeling reports released this week highlighted the need to rapidly transition all sectors to clean energy, NRDC and Sierra Club are calling on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC), Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPHE), and Colorado Energy Office (CEO) to translate research into reality.
Today, CDPHE and CEO released the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Pollution Reduction Roadmapcharting how the state can reach its HB 19-1261 climate targets; while Evolved Energy, GridLab, NRDC, and Sierra Club, with support from PSE Healthy Energy, released a report earlier in the week charting additional pathways to meet the same goals in more efficient, economical, and equitable ways. Together, these reports must accelerate the discussion and rulemaking process in Colorado.
“For many Colorado families, the climate crisis looks like dirty air and high energy bills,” said Ariana Gonzalez, the Colorado Policy Director at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The climate crisis is smoky skies from wildfires year after year and the smoggy skies from the cars and trucks on I-70 day after day. As we look to reduce these health-harming emissions as quickly as we can, we’ve got to center the priorities of low-income communities and communities of color that are facing the worst of this crisis. That’s why we’re calling on the state to prioritize reducing pollution and inequitable energy costs right alongside reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and why we’re calling for strong commitments in the electricity and oil and gas sectors.”
Both analyses find that the state must take bold action to reduce emissions from the electric, transportation, buildings, and oil and gas sectors in order to meet Colorado’s climate goals. Compared with the GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap, the report shows the implications of:
- Rapidly powering the electric sector with renewable resources: The modeling shows 98 to 99 percent clean electricity by 2030 as the lowest-cost pathway, and we advocate for at least 90 percent emission reductions, while the GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap assumes 80 percent reductions in electric utility emissions by 2030 and does not consider alternative targets.
- Reducing oil and gas production levels: The report recommends reducing oil and gas production levels and reducing methane leakage rates. The GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap focuses solely on reducing methane leakage rates while assuming significant increases in oil and gas production, an approach that is less likely to achieve necessary methane emission reductions.
- Addressing pollution and energy burdens in low-income communities and communities of color: While the GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap focuses on reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, the report finds that low-income communities and communities of color are most vulnerable to health-harming emissions from major polluting sectors and more likely to pay disproportionate shares of their incomes on energy and transportation costs. Policies focusing solely on overall emissions as opposed to these air pollution disparities and energy burdens are likely to perpetuate current inequities unless complementary policies are put in place.
“The pathway to dealing with the climate crisis in Colorado can not exist in a silo that simply focuses on greenhouse gas emissions reductions; rather, a holistic approach that addresses every aspect of our energy choices should be in the fabric of all policies implemented in Colorado,” said Amelia Myers, the Southwest Region Deputy Director at Sierra Club. “Colorado has an opportunity to implement policies that address the racial, economic, and environmental impacts of our energy choices and must do so swiftly with impacted communities' input.”
The GHG Pollution Reduction Roadmap highlights one possible pathway to meet climate goals, while the report provides four additional pathways to help policymakers explore the implications of various policy options. In addition to a business-as-usual pathway where emissions increase, the report analyzes a central pathway that meets the state climate goals and three variations: a scenario where the electric sector transitions to renewable resources more slowly, resulting in increased costs and emissions; a scenario where the state invests more significantly in energy efficiency, resulting in reduced costs and pollution; and a scenario where the state eliminates all fossil fuels, resulting in increased renewable resources and storage.
“As entrepreneurs in the clean economy, we know that Colorado’s economic future lies in clean energy,” said RJ Harrington, a Partner with National Car Charging and a member of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). “We need to know that the state’s got our back, and that means investing in renewable resources to cut emissions, improve air quality, and help grow businesses like ours that are creating jobs for Coloradans. Powering our state with wind and solar energy instead of extracting and combusting dirty fuels opens up so many new opportunities. For example, while electric vehicles are already cutting smog levels, the benefits will be even greater once we’re charging up with even more clean electricity. It’s good for our health, and it’s just good business.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.