Aspen turns to new climate plan, ASAP |

Aspen turns to new climate plan, ASAP

Notwithstanding this cold, snowy winter, Aspen’s annual average temperatures have risen over the long decades and are expected to rise more in the future.

The average number of consecutive frost-free days in Aspen has increased by 46 days since 1940 and by 30 days since 1980, representing the loss of more than a month of winter in less than a lifetime, according to the city.

Against this backdrop, the City Council was quick Tuesday evening to give a literal thumbs up to the staff’s latest iteration of the city Climate Action Plan, including changing the name to ASAP, for Aspen Sustainability Action Plan.

“The plan is the roadmap for the city to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals,” said Tessa Schreiner, the city’s sustainability manager. “It addresses the five key sectors of our community’s emissions inventory and centers key guiding principles, including equity, adaptability, and collaboration.”

The council has exhorted the staff to accelerate emission goals out of concern for climate change and the likelihood for more devastating wildfires and water limitations in the future, among other effects.

“The ASAP is a good thing for the city because we want to set an example not just for our community, but for the entire valley.” Councilman Ward Hauenstein said. “We can only affect what happens in Aspen, but it’s not limited to Aspen. The greenhouse gases that are produced from the coal mine in Pitkin County, but right next to it is Gunnison County. Methane doesn’t stop at a county line.”

Aspen climate ASAP plan

The council could have rejected the final Aspen Sustainability Action Plan as currently written to either recommend revisions or continue the community’s climate action work without a formal policy and planning framework.

All the council members, however, liked what they saw, although they have directed the staff to come back in the spring with options to speed up elements of the plan.

To reach the city’s climate goals, objectives include decarbonizing the Roaring Fork Valley’s electrical grid, maximizing efficiency, switching from non-renewable fuels to clean electricity and other sources, and eliminating the landfill disposal of recyclable and re-usable materials.

The community and region’s input on how the programs are built, along with support, resources, and policies are essential, city officials said. 

The city will update the plan annually, prioritizing feedback from the community, officials said, adding that people can offer feedback and questions to

Aspen climate ASAP plan

“We are excited to collaborate with the community and local partners to implement the plan and continue to work towards reaching our climate goals,” Schreiner said.

The new plan:

A footnote

The average annual temperature recorded for Pitkin County hasn’t budged much between the 39.3 degree annual temperature of 2000 and the 38.0 degrees recorded for 2022. The years between range from 2017’s high 40.5 degrees and 2008’s low 36.8 degrees. This is according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of NOAA, and linked by the city as source. These annual temperatures all run several degrees over the mean running back to 1900.