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Colorado already has made substantial gains in using renewable energy since standards were established by Amendment 37 in 2004 and later strengthened by House Bill 1281 in 2007. The amendment and legislation require 10 percent of all electric power to be from renewable sources by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020. The plan calls for the federal government to enact a nationwide climate strategy so that regional initiatives such as the seven-state Western Climate Initiative can be subsumed into a more coherent and effective national program. Currently, 839 mayors who represent more than 80 million people have approved the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Under it, cities strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent from 1990 levels by 2012; urge state and federal governments to meet the same target; and urge Congress to enact bipartisan greenhouse gas legislation. At least three major blocks of states are working to reduce greenhouse gasses. In 2005 seven northeastern states agreed on a plan to reduce power plant greenhouse emissions by 10 percent in 2019. Six states and one Canadian province associated with the Midwestern Governors’ Association signed an accord in November 2007 to establish greenhouse gas reduction program by 2009. And in the West, the Western Climate Initiative involves a similar program with seven participating states and two Canadian provinces. Colorado is an official observer of the WCI process. On the congressional level, leg-

islators have introduced numerous bills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many observers believe a federal program is inevitable, although the exact timing is unknown. Reduction of greenhouse gasses on a large scale will involve putting a price on carbon emissions. Most approaches involve a “cap and trade” program modeled after an effective federal effort to reduce power plants’ sulfur dioxide emissions. Cap and trade programs provide permits to emit a certain amount of pollutants. Other approaches being considered involve carbon taxes. In Colorado, Aspen, Basalt, Boulder, Carbondale, Denver, Dillon, Durango, Frisco, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison, Nederland, New Castle, Pagosa Springs, Telluride, Crested Butte and Westminster signed the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Many of them have established or are working on climate action plans; Denver’s plan set a target of reducing emissions by 25 percent in 2020. Aspen and Boulder enacted municipal taxes to support local mitigation efforts. Boulder’s tax, passed by 58 percent of the voters in 2006, was the first citywide mitigation tax in the nation and costs an average of $1.33 per month for each residence and $3.80 per month per business. The tax will pay for residential and commercial energy audits to advise owners how to save energy. Aspen’s tax was established in 2000 and is levied at the time of construction if homeowners exceed a certain projected energy budget. It has generated more than $8 million, applied to improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable electricity use in the Roaring Fork Valley. q

Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Climate Change

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Citizen's Guide to Colorado Climate Change  

This guide presents a range of contemporary climate change information presented by Colorado experts.