In October 2008, representatives of several local governments decided to form a new network to support their climate and related programs, and asked the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, an existing nonprofit organization, to administer the network. In May 2009, the mayor of Denver, the mayor of Fort Collins, and the executive directors of the Colorado Municipal League (CML) and the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) announced a new Colorado Climate Network to support local climate programs in Colorado. (That mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper, later went on to become the current governor of Colorado.)
The mission of the 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. 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. The Network is open to members with established local programs as well as those just getting their programs underway.
Members of the Network include any general-purpose local government in Colorado wishing to join. Also, any nonprofit or for-profit organization that is allied with a local government in cooperative action on climate, is nominated for membership by such a local government, and is approved by the Network Steering Committee may join.
The Network works cooperatively with other organizations serving local governments. The Colorado Municipal League has officially endorsed the Network, is a member of the Network, and partners with the Network. For example, the Network and CML jointly convened the Colorado Local Resilience Project.
The Network is administered by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and is guided by a Steering Committee of representatives of members. The Network’s principal services are the opportunities for collaborative interaction and the information the Network offers to its members. Current services being offered by the Network include:
The Colorado Local Resilience Project, which in its first phase brought together 78 representatives of 30 local governments across Colorado (both Network members and others), who developed an agenda to improve the resilience of local communities and resources to climate change. The Network is now working for implementation of the 36 recommendations in the project report, including recommendations for state government actions to support and enable local resilience efforts.
Development of information on Colorado's local vulnerabilities to climate-change-related impacts, to support local government planning and management actions to improve local resilience to climate change. An initial effort was a report prepared by RMCO for the City of Fort Collins, a Network member, on trends and projections of extreme heat in that city. That was followed by much more comprehensive reports on projected climate extremes in Larimer County and Boulder County, accompanied by a workshop for local officials and staff members of local governments in those two counties on the use of that information. These reports were brought about by the active support of CNN members and funded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, using federal disaster recovery funds. An even more detailed assessment of climate extremes in the Denver metro area is now being prepared, commissioned by and in partnership with the City and County of Denver's Department of Environmental Health.
Information about grants and other funding opportunities for local programs. An example is this Network Update summarizing the elements of the 2009 federal stimulus legislation that provided billions of dollars to local climate and energy programs.
Information about state and federal actions relevant to local climate actions. RMCO has a lobbyist who will keep network members informed about actions in the Colorado General Assembly; the Network itself, however, is not currently expected to lobby the state or federal government on behalf of any Network positions, although a decision could be made in the future to do so.
Conferences, workshops and other opportunities to learn from experts and interact other Network members. An examples is a 2013 statewide conference on local emission reduction efforts.
The services provided by the Network will grow over time as the resources available to the Network permit. It is currently expected that the Network’s additional services will grow to include:
A clearinghouse of resource materials, including comprehensive and detailed information on local climate change risks in Colorado and state and local climate action programs in Colorado (and examples from elsewhere).
Development of other new information and materials on climate change in Colorado.
Promoting, coordinating, and providing assistance to sub-state regional cooperative efforts among local governments to address climate change in Colorado.
For more information on the Network, including information on becoming a member, see this document. For questions, contact Tom Easley, the director of programs at the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.