Denver, CO—Today, Environment Colorado released a new report, Global Warming Solutions That Work, which details more than twenty examples of cutting-edge policies and practices communities, states and countries are using to reduce global warming pollution.
The report highlights work in Denver and across the state, noting the investment in new rail lines, expansion of renewable energy development, and the building of an affordable zero-energy home. Colorado also recently passed legislation to include the cost of global warming pollution when making decisions about future energy production and use.
“Despite recent setbacks in Congress to pass global warming legislation, the report provides a way forward and a hopeful message for how we can tackle this problem,” said Keith Hay, Energy Advocate at Environment Colorado. Colorado has talked the talked and is walking the walk to fight global warming. The example set by cites and states across the nation and around the world provide a clear roadmap for national action.
For the United States to achieve the emission reductions that science tells us are necessary – cutting emissions by at least 15-20 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050 – requires major changes in many areas of America’s economy, from the increased use of clean, renewable energy to dramatic improvements in the efficiency with which we use energy in our homes, businesses, and vehicles. Solutions exist today that can get us much of the way there. Best yet, communities across the country – and around the globe – are putting those solutions into practice.
“The science is clear, if we don’t act quickly and boldly to reduce our emissions of global warming pollutants, Colorado will face less snow, more drought, hotter summers, and increased fire risk,” said Hay. “We must act quickly to cut global warming pollution, otherwise Colorado’s environment, economy, and way of life are at risk.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes Colorado researchers from the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder as well as Colorado State University, made clear in a seminal report last year that we must reduce our emissions of global warming pollutants quickly and dramatically in order to avoid the most catastrophic, long-term effects of global warming. Specifically, the most important task of any U.S. effort to address global warming must be to achieve significant domestic emission reductions as soon as possible.
“The flipside of the global warming challenge is clean energy opportunity, said Hay. “In Colorado we have seen that producing more renewable energy has meant more green collar jobs and reduced energy costs for Coloradans.”
With the installation of an additional 775 megawatts of wind power last year alone, Xcel Energy now gets about 10 percent of its power from wind. As a result of this rapid move to renewable energy, Colorado has seen an explosion of clean, green jobs like the opening of the Vestas wind blade manufacturing plant in Windsor.
“Colorado’s leadership in adopting clean, pollution-free energy resources such as wind and solar has created many new economic benefits,” said Craig Cox, executive director of the Interwest Energy Alliance. “Rural localities have seen job growth and new economic benefits as wind and solar plants are built, while other communities are gaining new manufacturing facilities, providing many new, permanent jobs. The long-term cost stability of electricity generated from renewable energy sources should act as a hedge against the increasing unpredictability of fossil fuel prices.”
The report’s authors conclude that the federal government should build upon the successes of the efforts outlined in the report by setting mandatory, science-based caps on global warming pollution, adopting strong clean energy policies, and investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
- The federal government should adopt mandatory, science-based caps on global warming pollution. At minimum, those caps should be consistent with a national goal of reducing emissions by 15-20 percent below today’s levels by 2020 and by at least 80 percent below today’s levels by 2050. Revenues from any program that puts a price on global warming pollution should be used to aid in the transition to a clean energy economy and to reduce the cost of emissions reduction to consumers.
- Cities, states and the federal government should make energy efficiency improvements and accelerated development of renewable energy the centerpieces of their environmental and economic development policies. Advanced building energy codes; strong energy efficiency standards for buildings, appliances and vehicles; and mandatory targets for renewable power generation and energy efficiency savings are among the policies that can reduce global warming pollution and put the nation on a clean energy path.
- Global warming and fossil fuel dependence should become central considerations in land-use planning and public sector investment decisions. America should increase its investment in public transportation and rail transportation to reduce emissions from the transit sector. All new public buildings should meet rigorous standards for energy efficiency and the increase the use of clean energy.
“Only bold, science-based action can stave off catastrophic effects of global warming,” concludes Hay. “We strongly urge our Colorado’s Congressional delegation to support investment in renewable energy and strong global warming legislation.”