Local Resilience Project
The report of the Colorado Local Resilience Project, convened by the Colorado Climate Network and the Colorado Municipal League, was released on April 23, 2015. The report is a call for action -- for more steps by local governments, the Colorado state government, and others to improve the resilience of Colorado communities to climate-change-related risks, including increases in wildfires, floods, and health-threatening heat waves. Seventy-eight representatives from 30 local governments and six related local organization developed the report, with contains six conclusions and 36 recommendations, all representing a consensus of the project participants.
One of the report recommendations is that the state government prepare a comprehensive state-government-wide preparedness plan, not only to guide state government actions but also to provide a conceputal and programmatic framework for consistent, coordinated actions by local governments to address local and sub-state regional risks. The Colorado state government has since released a new Colorado Climate Action plan, which includes a framework for preparedness actions, as explained further here.
State government climate policy actions. See our Network webpage on overall state government actions for information on important new state government actions, including a new Colorado Climate Action Plan and state action to develop a plan to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. These two actions represent the most important and visible actions yet by the administration of Governor John Hickenlooper to tackle climate change.
CDBG-DR Resilience Planning & Capacity Building Program: Round 2 Awards. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Recovery Office announced in April 2015 the recipients of Round Two of the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Resilience Planning Grant Program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Forty-one projects will be funded for a total of $7.2 million in 19 jurisdictions or organizations located in Boulder, Weld, Larimer, Jefferson, and El Paso Counties - the counties in which presidentially designated wildfire and flood disasters occurred in 2012-2013.
Network members Boulder County and City of Boulder are grant recipients, as well as the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, which is the recipient of a grant for a Larimer-Boulder Resilience Project to do climate extremes analyses addressing historic and projected rates of days with extreme heat and extreme precipitation, a synthesis report on climate change impacts on wildfires, and a workshop for local government officials and staff addressing climate change impacts in comprehensive plans, hazard mitigation plans, and other planning processes.
National Disaster Resilience Competition. In June 2014 President Obama announced a nearly $1 billion competition inviting states and communities that experienced presidentially-declared natural disasters in 2011-2013 to compete for funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters. The competition is funded through Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In March 2015 Governor Hickenlooper's Office announced the Colorado Recovery Office filed the state's application. As part of the application, Colorado proposes the development of local resilience strategies and the implementation of those strategies through innovative public-private partnerships in disaster impacted areas throughout Colorado. The application anticipates 4-5 pilot Local Resiliency Strategy Plans will be funded during the summer of 2015 and ultimately the State will support the development of local plans for all areas within the state under criteria from the Colorado Resiliency Framework developed to support the application.
Fort Collins framework for emission reductions. In the City of Fort Collins, long a leader in local government climate policies, the City Council in March 2015 unanimously approved a framework of actions to meet ambitious goals to achieve community-wide reduction of heat-trapping emissions: 20% below 2005 levels by 2020, 80% below 2005 levels by 2030, and 100% below 2005 levels by 2050 (in other words, achieving community-wide carbon neutrality). By contrast, in the absence of local action, heat-trapping pollutants are projected to increase 16% by 2030 and 39% by 2050, above 2005 levels, according to the city's emissions inventory and forecast.
The council action caps a thorough process, including a 23-member multi-interest Citizens Advisory Committee and a core analytical team, led by the city and supported by Brendle Group and Rocky Mountain Institute. In addition, Platte River Power Authority, which supplies power to Fort Collins and three other northern Colorado cities, analyzed electricity supply scenarios that would reduce system-wide emissions by 80% by 2030. Sectors examined in the framework include building energy efficiency, advanced mobility, energy supply and delivery, and waste reduction and materials regeneration. Preliminary cost/benefit analyses suggest that the cumulative costs associated with actions between 2015 and 2020 may be $600 million, while cumulative savings in that same period may be $300 million. Longer-term, there could be net savings to be realized community-wide, potentially on the order of $2-6 billion by 2050.
New state Climate Change Vulnerability Study. In February 2015, the Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study, the first-ever state-specific synthesis of existing information on how climate change may affect Colorado, was jointly released by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University. The study was commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office in accordance with state legislation enacted in 2013, House Bill 13-1293, requiring executive branch annual reports to the Colorado General Assembly on the development and periodic update of a climate action plan and collaboration with other entities regarding climate change preparedness studies.
The study is a summary of existing available data and research results from the peer-reviewed literature. See more details here.
City and County of Denver Climate Adaptation Plan. The plan released by Denver in June 2014 is an exemplary effort keyed on meeting its “long-term vision to be one of the most innovative and resilient cities in the face of climate change.” To prepare, mitigate, and plan for three primary risks -- increased temperature and heat island effect, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and reduced snowpack and earlier snowmelt --the plan lays out short-, mid-, and long-term actions focused on six sectors: buildings and energy, health and human services, land use and transportation, urban natural resources, water consumption, and food and agriculture.
RMCO Report: More Extreme Heat in Fort Collins. RMCO and the City of Fort Collins released in early February 2014 a RMCO report documenting increases in hot days and heat waves in Fort Collins since 1961. Annual rates of 95 degree days and of three straight days of 90 degrees or hotter, for example, have tripled so far this century, compared to 1961-1999 rates. New climate projections prepared for the report also show large increases in these frequencies in the future, especially if future levels of heat-trapping pollution grows at about the current rate. With that medium-high level of future emissions, these 90-degree heat waves could occur five times as often as the historic rate by mid-century, and nine times as often by the end of the century. See more information here.
The mission of the Colorado Climate Network is to support efforts by local governments and allied organizations in Colorado to reduce heat-trapping gases and to adapt to climate change – whether those efforts are styled as climate, sustainability, energy, or adaptation programs. Launched by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and local community partners in May 2009, the Network helps its members develop and implement those programs, learn of funding and other resources, and interact more productively with other local and state programs in Colorado.
For more information about the Colorado Climate Network, click on the About link on the navigation bar on the top of this page.
For more information about the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, go to the RMCO website.