Fort Collins sets gold standard for climate action

Environment Colorado

Fort Collins, Co. – The city of Fort Collins will completely eliminate its global warming pollution in 35 years, according to a Climate Action Plan ratified Tuesday that is the strongest in the country and among the most ambitious in the world.

“Global warming is a serious problem, but we can solve it,” said Travis Madsen, state global warming campaign director at Environment America. “Fort Collins has set the gold standard for climate action.”

The plan, which won unanimous approval from the City Council, requires all sectors of the city’s economy – from industry to transportation – to aggressively ratchet down greenhouse gas pollution. The council set benchmark reductions from 2005 levels of 20 percent by 2020; 80 percent by 2030; and 100 percent by 2050.

Coloradans are increasingly aware of the impacts of global warming. In 2012, high temperatures and dry soil fueled the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires. An historic thunderstorm triggered massive flooding in September of 2013. And warmer winters, more melting snow, and dryer soils have all contributed to the destruction of more than 4 million acres of forests by the mountain pine beetle. 

“In Colorado we know as well as anyone that climate change is happening now,” said Kim Stevens, state director for Environment Colorado. “So it’s fitting that Fort Collins is leading the way with bold measures to cut global warming pollution.”

The new goals are a step up from the city’s previous plan, which called for an 80 percent cut in pollution by mid-century. In developing its new plan, Fort Collins determined that acting too slowly was a prescription for disaster. 

Fort Collins’ Climate Action Plan lays out measures to reduce energy use in buildings and transportation, clean up pollution from power plants, and eliminate landfill emissions through recycling and composting.

Analysts predict the plan will be quite cost-effective. Rocky Mountain Institute and Colorado State University estimate it would require an investment of about $300 million by 2020, with a payback of $2 to $6 billion by mid-century.

“This is the kind of bold leadership we’d like to see from President Obama and international leaders at the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris this December,” said Environment America’s Madsen. “States and cities across the country should follow the lead of Fort Collins, starting with embracing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and maximizing the opportunity to accelerate our transition to clean energy.”


Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-based advocacy organizations, including Environment Colorado, working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.