Climate is in crisis.
In a 2-1 vote, the Board of County Commissioners on Sept. 15 agreed to acknowledge the global climate crisis and to move forward with a climate-action plan that will develop goals, policies and programs to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Now that the idea has been approved, a climate-action team will be developed to pursue grants and other funding sources and to determine the scope of the project and a cost estimate. The process is expected to continue until next summer when the plan would be drafted and published, and the team could continue with implementation and monitoring of the various goals and targets.
Commissioner Libby Szabo voted against the proposal, not because she didn’t support the efforts but because she felt it wasn’t as custom-made for Jeffco as it should be.
“I would like to see something a little more tailored to Jefferson County,” Szabo said.
“Jefferson County cannot carry the burden of the world’s problems,” she added.
Although the resolution does acknowledge the global risk and references a number of reports and agreements, including the November 2018 National Climate Assessment, it also notes impacts specific to Jefferson County and Colorado. These include prolonged drought, elevated wildfire risk, air pollution, more extreme heat and more.
The resolution also references some of the work that’s already been done by the county. Jeffco created a sustainability coordinator position, developed a sustainability program and improved energy efficiency in the county buildings.
Szabo worried that alternative energy efforts could mean higher energy costs for Jefferson County’s lower-income constituents.
Commissioner Casey Tighe agreed with that notion but touted the work of Golden’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which specializes in renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development.
Tighe and Commissioner Lesley Dahlkemper ultimately voted in favor of the climate measure.
“In my mind, this effort is long overdue,” Dahlkemper said.
Several community members spoke in favor of the initiative during public comment at the hearing. JJ Trout, a member of Golden City Council, said passing the resolution is the first step.
Richard Crane, who serves on the board of the Evergreen Alliance for Sustainability, agreed with Trout.
“I think (the resolution is) forward looking and needs to happen for us,” he said.
“Forests are a big deal to us up in Evergreen,” Crane added. “We’re concerned about those forests and the effects of climate change — from warmer summers to warmer winters.”