Cities across country look to Aspen for climate action | AspenTimes.com

Cities across country look to Aspen for climate action

Left to right: Sarah Gruen, from Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Aspen councilman Adam Frisch, Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, Chris Menges, the city's climate and sustainability planner, and councilwoman Ann Mullins, attended a symposium in Denver last month where they accepted an award for the local government's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Toolkit.

The city of Aspen's effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is garnering the attention of local governments around the country.

More than a dozen cities have reached out to Aspen to learn more about its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Toolkit, said Ashley Perl, manager of the city's climate action department, at a recent City Council meeting.

Put together in partnership with the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), the 60-page toolkit identifies best practices, strategies and actions that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. It's designed so governments can tailor it to their needs.

The toolkit is the result of 24 years of the city and CORE working on climate action, taking the best of what they've learned and developed.

"We have, in many instances, more time on the ground and more resources than other communities, so we have an obligation to share what we've learned," Perl said in a statement.

The city and CORE won an award for the toolkit last month at the Colorado Communities Symposium. Four hundred people were there, representing cities and counties from around the state, including Aspen's climate action team and three elected officials. The symposium was held in Denver and led by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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"Across Colorado, local governments are playing a critical role in reducing emissions to address climate change," Hickenlooper said during his remarks. "These local programs are laying the groundwork for Colorado's place as a climate and clean energy leader."

The symposium is an outgrowth of Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron establishing what's known as the Compact of Colorado Communities. It was established to bring cities and counties together to take steps on climate action.

Skadron said he was inspired after attending the Paris Climate Accord in 2015.

"I thought, 'How can we scale it to Colorado?'" he said. "I owed it to those who invited me and those who sent me there to take action."

So last May, elected officials from 27 Colorado cities and counties convened at Aspen Kitchen and signed a pledge to build their capacity to tackle climate change. Several more communities have signed on since, according to Skadron.

"This was about a network of liberal and conservative communities coming together to take action in their own communities," he said. "It's about what is getting done locally that's not getting done at the state level."

And the momentum building around the city's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Toolkit is just one example of how other jurisdictions are using it as a resource to reduce their own emissions, said Chris Menges, who works in the city's climate action department and attended the symposium in Denver.

"I was so energized and inspired by it," he said of the gathering.

For the past year, the city has been developing a climate action plan that aims for greenhouse-gas reduction targets of 30 percent below 2004 levels and 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2050.

City Council is expected tonight to approve a resolution formally adopting the plan.

csackariason@aspentimes.com