‘State of the Climate’ leaves Aspenites optimistic | AspenTimes.com

‘State of the Climate’ leaves Aspenites optimistic

CORE CEO Dallas Blaney leads a discussion called "The State of Climate Action" the nonprofit hosted on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, at the Aspen Art Museum. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Activists, policymakers and everyday people gathered at the Aspen Art Museum Rooftop Cafe on Tuesday evening to discuss positive developments in the fight against climate change. 

The Community Office for Resource Efficiency held its first “State of the Climate” event in an effort to make attendees feel “as optimistic as we do,” as newly-minted CORE CEO Dallas Blaney said before introducing the panel.

The panel of four experts who spoke: Chris Caskey, lead scientist on the Coal Basin Methane Project and founder of the Delta Brick and Climate Company; Tessa Schreiner, sustainability manager for the city of Aspen; Brian Corbett, chief commercial and sustainability officer at Atlantic Aviation; and Will Toor, the executive director of the Colorado Energy Office.

Topics discussed ranged from technological innovations, incoming federal dollars in the form of tax credits and rebates from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, and what individuals can do to mitigate their carbon footprint. 

Corbett answered an audience question about the use of sustainable jet fuel, which is made from renewable fuel stocks and is currently used by composing 30% of the fuel blend in sustainable jet fuel, at the Aspen Airport — it is used there in some planes. He said the future of sustainable jet fuel is bright and will significantly reduce aviation’s carbon footprint.

Caskey discussed methane recapture efforts, as methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, through the Coal Basin Methane project, one of the first projects of its kind on public land.

Bill Stirling, who co-founded CORE, starts off a discussion called “The State of Climate Action” the nonprofit hosted on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, at the Aspen Art Museum. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Schreiner addressed an audience comment about emissions tracking, saying that she is excited to get the city to track its emissions more regularly to better inform carbon footprint mitigation practices. They currently collect the data every three years, she said. 

And Toor explained the state’s role in distributing federal dollars from climate legislation like the IRA. He said that the state is still waiting for specific instructions from various federal departments, but Colorado citizens and communities will want to take advantage of all the money coming the state’s way.

When asked what individuals can do, public servant Schreiner said, “Vote!” which was met with chuckles from the audience. 

Then Caskey called out the wealth and privilege in the room. 

“With money and privilege comes consumption and impact,” he said. Then, he added, “With privilege comes voice!”

The talk wrapped almost exactly after one hour of conversation among the panelists, moderator and audience.

Jacqueline Francis is the executive director and founder of the Aspen-based Global Warming Mitigation Project and the chair of the Aspen Airport Advisory Board. The conversation on sustainable jet fuel stood out for her.

“It’s really exciting to me to see a conversation on sustainable jet fuel. I know it’s a small part of the global emission conversation, but it’s such a big part of our community,” she said. “And that we’re going beyond the product to the infrastructure (is exciting).”

Blaney said he was pleased with the event. Great turnout for a snowy night, the seats and standing room were full with about 70 attendees, and enthusiastic audience questions made it a success, he said. 

“I really liked the question about emissions tracking, because if we don’t do a better job to track emissions and focus our energy we’re going to miss the mark,” he said. 

Blaney said hopes Toor’s participation in the event will translate to more access to federal climate mitigation funds for Aspen, as Toor got to hear specific concerns among Aspen locals.