Reducing emissions key to climate fight |

Reducing emissions key to climate fight

Bob Berwyn
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Driving down greenhouse gas emissions is the best way for Colorado to make a measurable impact in the fight against climate change.

A blue ribbon panel convened to make specific recommendations on climate change issues is targeting an aggressive reduction of heat-trapping gases in the next 50 years, calling for a 37 percent cut by 2020, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

The cuts could also save the state some $3 billion dollars by 2020, said Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

The best way to cut greenhouse gases is by increasing efficiency, which cuts emissions and saves money at the same time, Saunders said.

“We need to be looking to get the best and most efficient use from the energy we’re using, whether it’s oil or coal or whatever,” said Summit County Commissioner Tom Long, who serves on the climate panel’s board and also was part of the group that crafted the recommendations.

“If we could implement some of these things, we could really fight the deterioration in air quality … whether you believe in global warming or not,” Long said.

Achieving the 2020 goal would cut emissions from 147 million metric tons (under current law) to 93 million metric tons.

The climate action panel spent 10 months developing its list of proposed changes. Long said the idea is that some of the recommendations will be considered by the state Legislature during the upcoming session.

The panel was bipartisan and included representation from industry, along with government, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

“It was a good cross-section of people,” Long said.

The panel also recommended further strengthening of the state’s renewable portfolio standard, requiring investor-owned utilities to get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources. Municipal and cooperative utilities would have to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources. The target changes would cut emissions of heat-trapping gases another 5 million metric tons by 2020.

Other goals include an expansion of solid waste recycling and composting to cut another 4.6 million metric tons of emissions by 2020.

The panel also recommended adopting California’s strict emission standards for new cars and trucks, a move that would cut emissions by another 3.4 million metric tons by 2020.

Fourteen of the recommendations outline a roadmap for addressing climate change impacts to Colorado’s water supply, deemed one of the most vulnerable areas.