Report: Action on Global Warming in Colorado Critical to the Future of the Outdoors and Outdoor Industry

Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center

Durango, CO –Colorado is poised to play a major role in U.S. progress to address climate change, a new report said today. In the next decade, the state will cut an amount of global warming pollution equivalent to adding 4,800 wind turbines to its energy infrastructure, helping to mitigate global warming impacts like fire and drought on the outdoor recreation industry in the state. 

“The outdoor industry contributes $13.2 billion to Colorado’s economy and directly employs 125,000 individuals,” said Nikki Hodgson of Outdoor Industry Association. “Climate change impacts public lands and recreation access and taking action to reduce carbon pollution is important for the continued economic health of our industry and the state.”

The analysis, Path to the Paris Climate Conference: American Progress in Cutting Carbon Pollution Could Pave the Way for Global Action, documents expected carbon pollution reductions from existing state-level and federal policies by 2025, including Colorado’s existing renewable energy standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and regional and state-based carbon caps.

“We are paving the path to the future with concrete action to cut pollution here in Colorado,” said Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Dickey-Lee Hullinghorst. “Colorado has shown that it can be done, and with our connection to the outdoors and the significant contributions of the outdoor industry to our economy, it makes perfect sense for Colorado to take these goals seriously.”

The report shows that state and federal policies underway across the country can reduce carbon pollution 27 percent below 2005 levels. 

The biggest slice of these reductions will come from the Clean Power Plan, the proposed federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants expected to be finalized this summer. The plan requires a 17% percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in Colorado, and compels state leaders to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

“Colorado’s ski industry has already started to see the impacts of global warming in reduced snowpacks and shorter ski seasons.” Says Phil Huffeldt, Director of Snowriders International.  “The state has already started to move in the right direction, and adopting policies like the Clean Power Plan are going to be necessary if we want to maintain Colorado as a world class winter sports destination.”

However, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are trying to block the Clean Power Plan, with the full House and two key Senate panels voting this month to derail it.

“America can’t lead with polluters and climate deniers blocking the way,” said P.J. Higgins, Global Warming Solutions organizer with Environment Colorado. “That’s why we’re grateful to our leaders like Speaker Hullinghorst, Governor Hickenlooper, and Sen. Michael Bennet, who continue to defend the Clean Power Plan against attack, and who continue to raise the bar on climate action.”

To avoid devastating impacts of climate change, scientists estimate that an 80 percent cut in global warming pollution will be necessary by mid-century. In Colorado those impacts could devastate industries that rely on a healthy environment. 

“Colorado is poised to play a major role in American progress to cut global warming pollution,” said Higgins. “We must build on the steps that we have already taken to ensure that the natural beauty that makes our state such an amazing place to live continues to exist.  We have to stay on track to stay outside.”


Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.