Snowmass Village to join Colorado Communities for Climate Action

Council approves town’s entry into coalition of local governments

A drone image of solar panels in place at Town Hall in Snowmass Village. Town Council took another step forward in its sustainability initiatives when members voted to join the Colorado Communities for Climate Action coalition on Jan. 19, 2021.
Travis Elliott, Town of Snowmass Village/Courtesy Photo

Snowmass Town Council unanimously voted to join the Colorado Communities for Climate Action coalition at Tuesday’s meeting, marking another step forward in the town’s sustainability efforts.

Snowmass Village joins the neighboring local governments in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs as the newest member of the coalition. Pitkin County and Eagle County governments also are members of the group that will now total 36 Colorado communities with Snowmass Village’s entry.

“I think this makes a lot of sense for us, considering our neighbors are involved as well,” Mayor Bill Madsen said.

Council’s vote to join the coalition meets one of the recommended actions that the town’s Environmental Advisory Board proposed during a presentation in mid-December; joining gives Snowmass Village a voice in larger conversations about climate policy and action.

The collaborative action helps amplify the influence of local climate efforts and offers networking opportunities for participants, according to a membership overview presented in Tuesday’s council packet. Pooling resources creates a more cost-effective way to implement strategies aimed at combating climate change, the document states.

Annual dues, calculated based on the population of each community, will total $1,000 for Snowmass Village for a base membership; each member’s vote is weighted equally in coalition decisions regardless of population or dues.

The funds support coalition operations, including “representation by professional advocacy consultants in the General Assembly and before state agencies,” according to the membership overview.

“One of the challenges from a local government perspective that we grapple with on climate change is that there are a lot of impacts that play out at the local level that … most policymakers aren’t thinking about,” said the coalition’s Executive Director Jacob Smith. “We make sure that local government voices are heard and they are leveraged in these policy-making venues.”

The coalition was founded nearly five years ago, born out of a frustration from local governments that had climate and sustainability goals but faced limitations on the extent they could implement those policies without more support, according to Smith.

“They ran into this reality: many of the policy changes that are required have to have state level support,” Smith said. “If you pull a bunch of jurisdictions together as one voice, then that could carry a lot of weight.”

The organization was initially focused on work in the Colorado state legislature and has since expanded to collaborate with regulatory agencies on issues related to climate policy. The group’s engagement with federal policy could grow in the future, Smith said.

Colorado Communities for Climate Action’s guiding policy principles

The coalition’s policy initiatives are founded on five general principles, according to a policy statement from the organization.

“The following general principles guide the specific policies that Colorado Communities for Climate Action supports:

Collaboration between state and federal government agencies and Colorado’s local governments to advance local climate protection and resilience.

State and federal programs to reduce carbon pollution, including adequate and ongoing funding of those programs.

Analyses, financial incentives, infrastructure and enabling policies for the development and deployment of clean energy technologies.

Locally driven and designed programs to support communities impacted by the clean energy transformation.

Prioritizing policies that put people at the center of decision-making, minimizing disparities in growing the clean economy, especially for historically marginalized communities, and enhancing equitable outcomes for all.”

By joining the coalition, the town will commit to the organization’s 30 specific policy positions as well as the guiding principles that guide those positions. Change to those policy positions would require the support of all members of the coalition, giving Snowmass Village and all other participating governments a voice in the direction and goals of the organization.

Those policy positions span eight sectors of climate action, according to the coalition’s 2020-2021 policy statement: statewide climate strategies, local climate strategies, energy generation, energy efficiency, transportation, fossil fuel extraction monitoring, solid waste extraction and general initiatives.

Long-term, those statewide policy changes can affect communities that participate in the coalition, Smith said. Extreme and unusual weather patterns caused by climate change can alter local industries (like skiing) and infrastructure (like road quality); policies that aim to combat climate change therefore stand to benefit communities impacted by it.

“Local governments experience real impacts,” Smith said. “The coalition ensures that those governments can have a “part in the conversation.”