President Trump’s recent actions repealing Obama-era policies to combat climate change and instead advancing policies to boost domestic production of carbon-emitting fossil fuels have made his views clear: Climate change is not a concern.
Local leaders like Steve Skadron, Mayor of Aspen, whose community economy in winter – like most Colorado ski towns – depends entirely upon whether or not it snows, are undeterred and taking things into their own hands at the local level. Aspen already generates 100 percent of its power from wind, solar and hydropower and Skadron wanted to encourage other Colorado communities to do the same.
Last week, he hosted the kick-off meeting of the “Compact of Colorado Communities,” a group established to unite cities and counties to take action on climate change, become more resilient and stimulate a clean energy economy throughout Colorado.
Elected officials from five counties and 22 cities attended the meeting including Durango Mayor Dick White and City Councilor Dean Brookie who serves as president of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns. They all pledged to present the Compact and its mission – to train leaders to address climate issues, share information and prioritize action – with their respective governments.
Skadron’s message? “Curbing greenhouse-gas emissions is urgent, collaboration is necessary and local officials must drive action and cooperation at the state and national levels.”
Whether you are with President Trump or not, rain in January and blizzards in May catches the attention of the winter sports industry and the elected officials who serve the communities that depend upon it. The climate is changing right before their eyes and human-causes are the only ones possible to address.
The public, private and not-for-profit sectors are responding particularly in the four corners, home to the highest concentration of methane in the nation and one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases second to carbon dioxide.
The move for a call to renewable (wind and solar) versus non-renewable (oil, natural gas, coal) energy sources is making its way around the Southwest. Luis Reyes, the CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, visited Durango recently to share the coop’s experience moving to 100 percent solar by 2022. La Plata Electric Association’s board of directors last month unanimously voted to request 10 percent renewable generation from Tri-State, its wholesale electricity supplier. San Miguel Power Association is working to become carbon neutral, making no net release of carbon into the atmosphere a priority. And, Delta-Montrose Electric Association last year challenged and won a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling that allows the co-op to purchase, without limit, local, renewable sources of power.
Tonight the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club is in town from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Durango Public Library to advance its “Ready for 100” campaign that is helping Colorado communities transition to 100 percent renewable energy, as Aspen has done, and Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins and Pueblo have pledged to do between now and 2035.
For those seeking a full immersion in the topic of climate change, its current and future implications, as well as what individuals and communities can do about it, Telluride Mountainfilm, taking place this weekend, has themed this year’s festival, “The New Normal.” By that they mean living in the age of and adapting to climate change. They also want the new normal to be about engaged communities pursuing a new course – one moving towards carbon neutrality.
David Holbrooke, Festival Director, hopes to lead Mountainfilm patrons, the town and region in pursuing carbon neutrality and has assembled quite an array of local, national and international practitioners at Friday’s symposium, and at workshops, films and talks throughout the weekend. The program will afford participants an opportunity to deepen their knowledge and turn it into action, fulfilling the festival’s mission to “use the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.”
Seeds for how to respond to climate change are being planted throughout the region. We look forward to watching them grow.