Local Resilience Project
The report of the Colorado Local Resilience Project, convened by the Colorado Climate Network and the Colorado Municipal League, was released on April 23, 2015. The report is a call for action -- for more steps by local governments, the Colorado state government, and others to improve the resilience of Colorado communities to climate-change-related risks, including increases in wildfires, floods, and health-threatening heat waves. Seventy-eight representatives from 30 local governments and six related local organization developed the report, with contains six conclusions and 36 recommendations, all representing a consensus of the project participants.
One of the report recommendations is that the state government prepare a comprehensive state-government-wide preparedness plan, not only to guide state government actions but also to provide a conceputal and programmatic framework for consistent, coordinated actions by local governments to address local and sub-state regional risks. The recommendations stresses that it is important that local governments, as well as other stakeholders, have opportunities to contribute to the development of a state government preparedness plan. In May 2015, the state government did release a draft state climate plan that covers both emission reduction and preparedness actions. While a positive step forward, the state plan is neither comprehensive nor is it being prepared with the benefit of extensive stakeholder involvement. It is being prepared on a very tight timeline, with an anticipated release date of June 2015.
The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization was one of the very few organizations invited to comment, with conditions that the draft not be distributed to or its content discussed with anybody else. The main thrust of RMCO's comments was to call for full, meaningful engagement with stakeholders and the public in developing the plan. In particular, we recommended that the next version of the plan be produced as a second draft for review and comment by a full range of stakeholders and the public, not as a final plan as currently contemplated.
Check out the latest grants listed on our grants page. A new posting describes a White House announcement of a new national disaster resilience competition.
CDBG-DR Resilience Planning & Capacity Building Program: Round 2 Awards. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Recovery Office announced in April 2015 the recipients of Round Two of the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Resilience Planning Grant Program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Forty-one projects will be funded for a total of $7.2 million in 19 jurisdictions or organizations located in Boulder, Weld, Larimer, Jefferson, and El Paso Counties - the counties in which presidentially designated wildfire and flood disasters occurred in 2012-2013. Network members Boulder County and City of Boulder are grant recipients, as well as RMCO, which is the recipient of a $50,000 grant for a Larimer-Boulder Resilience Project to do climate extremes analyses addressing historic and projected rates of days with extreme heat and extreme precipitation, a synthesis report on climate change impacts on wildfires, and a workshop addressing climate change impacts in comprehensive plans, hazard mitigation plans, and other planning processes.
National Disaster Resilience Competition. In June 2014 President Obama announced a nearly $1 billion competition inviting states and communities that experienced presidentially-declared natural disasters in 2011-2013 to compete for funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters. The competition is funded through Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In March 2015 Governor Hickenlooper's Office announced the Colorado Recovery Office filed the state's application. As part of the application, Colorado proposes the development of local resilience strategies and the implementation of those strategies through innovative public-private partnerships in disaster impacted areas throughout Colorado. The application anticipates 4-5 pilot Local Resiliency Strategy Plans will be funded during the summer of 2015 and ultimately the State will support the development of local plans for all areas within the state under criteria from the Colorado Resiliency Framework developed to support the application.
Fort Collins targets carbon neutrality by 2050. The City of Fort Collins, long a leader in local government climate policies, on March 3 took the next step with unanimous City Council approval of a framework of actions to meet ambitious goals to achieve community-wide reduction of heat-trapping emissions: 20% below 2005 levels by 2020; 80% below 2005 levels by 2030; and 100% below 2005 levels by 2050 (carbon neutral). By contrast, in the absence of local action, heat-trapping pollutants are projected to increase 16% by 2030 and 39% by 2050, above 2005 levels, according to the city's emissions inventory and forecast.
The council action caps a thorough process, including a 23-member multi-interest Citizens Advisory Committee and a core analytical team, led by the city and supported by Brendle Group and Rocky Mountain Institute. In addition, Platte River Power Authority, which supplies power to Fort Collins and three other northern Colorado cities, analyzed electricity supply scenarios that would reduce system-wide emissions by 80% by 2030. Sectors examined in the framework include building energy efficiency, advanced mobility, energy supply and delivery, and waste reduction and materials regeneration. Preliminary cost/benefit analyses suggest that the cumulative costs associated with actions between 2015 and 2020 may be $600M, while cumulative savings in that same period may be $300M. Longer-term, there could be net savings to be realized community-wide, potentially on the order of $2-6 billion by 2050.
New state Climate Change Vulnerability Study. In February, the Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study, the first-ever state-specific synthesis of existing information on how climate change may affect Colorado, was jointly released by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University. The study was commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office in accordance with state legislation enacted in 2013, House Bill 13-1293, requiring executive branch annual reports to the Colorado General Assembly on the development and periodic update of a climate action plan and collaboration with other entities regarding climate change preparedness studies.
It is a summary of existing available data and research results from the peer-reviewed literature, and was compiled by researchers at CIRES, the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University, the North Central Climate Science Center, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Thirty experts from state offices, consulting groups, academia, and RMCO reviewed the report. The study summarizes the key challenges facing seven sectors: ecosystems, water, agriculture, energy, transportation, outdoor recreation and tourism, and public health. It also describes ways Coloradans are already grappling with these issues, and lays out a general approach state agencies could use in doing vulnerability analyses and preparedness planning. The report’s editors acknowledge that it is intended to be a broad overview, and that it should be considered as a base from which to do more detailed sector-by-sector vulnerability assessments and future preparedness planning.
National Institute of Standards and Technology releases draft Community Resilience Guide for public feedback. Comments are due June 26, 2015 on a draft guide to help communities plan for and act to keep windstorms, floods, earthquakes, sea-level rise, industrial mishaps and other hazards from inflicting disastrous consequences. Public feedback is requested on the draft "Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure." The first version of the guide will be released this fall and updated periodically as new building standards and research results become available, and as communities gain experience using the guide and recommend improvements. Click here to access the draft and for more information.
Climate Change in Colorado report. Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado and the Colorado Water Conservation Board on August 5 released a report, Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation, which updates and expands on the 2008 WWA-CWCB report of the same name. The report is an excellent summary, certainly the best yet, of how climate change may unfold in Colorado. The report is officially designed to be useful to the water provider community but will be equally useful to everybody interested in climate change here.
The report includes new projections on future temperature and precipitation changes, using the latest climate models and emissions scenarios. Importantly, supplemental information posted online by WWA (available via the link at the bottom of this page) presents those projections across all four new emissions scenarios (ranging from one assuming rapid reductions in emission of heat-trapping pollution to another assuming a continued high rate of emission increases) and for two time periods, one centered on 2050 and one on 2070. RMCO has posted a fact sheet summarizing all of those projections.
EPA Local Government Climate Adaptation Training Module available online.
EPA has released an online training module to help local government officials take actions to increase their communities' resiliency to a changing climate. The virtual training, which lasts about 30 minutes, was developed with EPA's Local Government Advisory Committee. It illustrates how a changing climate may affect a variety of environmental and public health services, describes how different communities are already adapting to climate-related challenges, and links to a number of federal and state resources that can help communities assess their unique climate-related risks and opportunities to become more resilient to climate change.
Click here to access the online training.
U.S. Geological Survey Publishes Water-Energy Nexus report. The intent of "The Water-Energy Nexus: An Earth Science Perspective" is to provide scientific insight to resource managers and the general public on the complex ways in which water and energy are interconnected and to highlight the important issues that affect availability and sustainability of water and energy resources in the U.S. Issues analyzed and discussed in the report include freshwater availability, water use, ecosystems health, assessment of fossil-fuel, and other energy sources, the subsurface injection of wastewater, carbon, and much more. Click here to access the report.
The City and County of Denver in June 2014 released its first Climate Adaptation Plan. It is an exemplary effort keyed on meeting its “long-term vision to be one of the most innovative and resilient cities in the face of climate change.” To prepare, mitigate, and plan for three primary risks (increased temperature and heat island effect, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and reduced snowpack and earlier snowmelt), the plan lays out short, mid-term, and long-term actions focused on six sectors: buildings and energy, health and human services, land use and transportation, urban natural resources, water consumption, and food and agriculture..
To protect public health, many major cities confront urban heat island effect. According to an American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) news release on June 17, 2014, an ACEEE survey of 26 North American cities, including eight in the West, includes case studies on how cities are responding to urban heat, demonstrating the variety of strategies employed.
RMCO Report: More Extreme Heat in Fort Collins. RMCO and the City of Fort Collins released in early February 2014 a RMCO report documenting increases in hot days and heat waves in Fort Collins since 1961. Annual rates of 95 degree days and of three straight days of 90 degrees or hotter, for example, have tripled so far this century, compared to 1961-1999 rates. New climate projections prepared for the report also show large increases in these frequencies in the future, especially if future levels of heat-trapping pollution grows at about the current rate. With that medium-high level of future emissions, these 90-degree heat waves could occur five times as often as the historic rate by mid-century, and nine times as often by the end of the century. See more information here.
The mission of the Colorado Climate Network is to support efforts by local governments and allied organizations in Colorado to reduce heat-trapping gases and to adapt to climate change – whether those efforts are styled as climate, sustainability, energy, or adaptation programs. Launched by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and local community partners in May 2009, the Network helps its members develop and implement those programs, learn of funding and other resources, and interact more productively with other local and state programs in Colorado.
For more information about the Colorado Climate Network, click on the About link on the navigation bar on the top of this page.
For more information about the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, go to the RMCO website.