Colorado Has Some Very Specific New Climate, Energy Goals

Colorado Has Some Very Specific New Climate, Energy Goals
Chase Woodruff

Colorado has a series of big, broad climate goals it plans to meet between now and 2050. But as of this week, the state has officially set some more specific, short-term targets, too.

The new goals, which aim for improvements in areas like electric-vehicle sales and clean-energy job creation, were released Monday, July 1, and are being touted by Governor Jared Polis as part of an effort to make state government more open and accountable.

The “Governor’s Dashboard” shows a series of targets that state agencies have committed to reaching by the end of Colorado’s next fiscal year, June 30, 2020. Data for most of the goals will be updated monthly, allowing the public to track the state’s progress in meeting them.

In addition to the climate- and energy-related goals, the site will update Coloradans on progress in key issue areas like health care, education and economic development.

“We are thrilled to share these carefully developed goals with Coloradans and have them follow along with us as we work to achieve them,” Polis said in a press release announcing the initiative. “This interactive tool emphasizes transparency and accountability as we work to ensure that every Coloradan has the opportunity to succeed.”

The goals aggregated on the Governor’s Dashboard site are drawn from the annual performance plans prepared by each state department, a requirement that has been in place since lawmakers passed an updated version of the State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) Government Act in 2013.

Polis ran on a promise of putting Colorado on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, and has made action on climate and energy policy a priority during his first six months in office. In May, he signed into law a slate of clean-energy bills headlined by the Colorado Climate Action Plan, which commits the state to achieving a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, a 50 percent cut by 2030 and a 90 percent cut by 2050.

Those are big, ambitious goals, and the annual performance targets released this week aim to lay the necessary groundwork and begin to chip away at them in more manageable pieces.

They include a variety of measures to reduce transportation emissions and accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, including raising the number of public EV charging stations from 680 to 816. Overall, the state wants to more than double the number of electric vehicles sold in Colorado by the end of the next fiscal year, from 4,470 in 2018 to at least 10,500 in 2020.

Other one-year performance metrics include the creation of at least 3,074 new jobs in the renewable-energy sector, the installation of LEDs in over 22,000 light fixtures in seventeen state-owned buildings, and the implementation of at least 24 new “soil, water and climate stewardship projects” by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Overall, the state aims to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions to below 119.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by next year, putting it on a path to 93 million tons or fewer required by the Climate Action Plan in 2025. An up-to-date inventory of the state’s current emissions is expected to be released later this year.

The Colorado Energy Office has also been tasked with creating a blueprint for achieving those overall emissions goals, outlining specific “decarbonization pathways” for the state to pursue.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a statewide transition to clean energy are integral to preserving and protecting Colorado’s way of life,” says the department’s 2019 performance plan. “These actions support the health of our communities and natural environment, provide access to lower cost clean energy resources for rural and urban areas, increase investment and economic growth opportunities and expand clean energy jobs.”

The Governor’s Dashboard tool is available online here.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chase Woodruff is a staff writer at Westword interested in climate change, the environment and money in politics.
Contact: Chase Woodruff