In lieu of our president’s recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement signed by his predecessor, 355 U.S. Mayors have committed to honoring the agreement. Colorado just became one of the 10 states that have signed on in support of the Paris Climate Agreement and committing to the actions set forth in Paris in 2015.
“Abandoning this climate deal is like ripping off your parachute when you should be pulling the ripcord,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement on June 1, when Trump announced exiting the agreement. “America’s greatness has always been demonstrated by our moral leadership. Today, we break ranks with 190 nations who are working together to stop the worst effects of climate change, which the scientific community agrees would devastate the global economy and our planet, and the defense community agrees would destabilize vulnerable nations that have served as breeding grounds for international terrorism.”
Governor John Hickenlooper has issued an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent below the recorded levels of 2005 by the year 2025. The governor has also signed on to the U.S. Climate Alliance that is composed of 10 states moving towards solar and wind energy in an active protest to the Trump administration. The U.S. Climate Alliance was initiated by governors of New York, California and Washington — three states that make up 10 percent of the United States total greenhouse gas emissions.
While signing the order at the iconic Red Rocks Park, Hickenlopper stated that Colorado will work towards the goals set forth in the agreement “ … regardless of what the federal government decides to do.”
Colorado has been a long-time mecca for sustainable building, alternative energy and progressive movement towards protecting our natural environment. The state’s representatives recognize the booming alternative energy market that has been left largely untapped for far too long. They see their choice to move forward into a green economy as a win for the state.
Other targets listed in the order are cutting the carbon pollution emitted by electricity power plants by 25 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030 when measured against the 2012 recorded levels. Colorado is still heavily relying on coal for their electricity needs, with 55 to 60 percent coming from coal-fired power plants. Much like preventative medicine, we need to be proactive about our environmental health before the damage reaches lethal levels.
One of the initiatives that Hickenlopper is excited to see implemented is charging stations along interstate highways. He feels that the sales of electric vehicles is being hindered by the lack of availability of charging stations. He is working with Nevada, Utah and the Volkswagon Mitigation Trust to ensure that Coloradoans can drive from Denver to the Pacific ocean without fear of a dead battery.
Some have met the order with opposition, particularly workers of the coal mines and in the coal industry that are affected by the order. Hickenlopper is advocating that those displaced by the reduction of coal learn the skills for measuring carbon emissions and the trade of installing renewable energies in their communities before the jobs become more competitive. There are 2,070 clean technology companies in Colorado and the competition between them is instigating innovation. Those clean tech companies have established 62,000 jobs as of 2015 and provided $3.6 billion in wages. It is anticipated that these numbers will see accelerated growth in the next three to five years.
"Coloradans value clean air and clean water," Hickenlooper said in a statement. "Our strong economy is a reflection of how our exhilarating outdoors attracts young entrepreneurs and the talent they need for their businesses. The vast majority of our residents, and indeed the country, expect us to help lead the way toward a clean and affordable energy future. In this process, we no doubt can address climate change while keeping a priority on household budgets."