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Cool Breeze Ahead

Climate Change Requires Critical Action

The recreation, tourism and hospitality industries are critical to our state’s economy and the Colorado way of life, but climate change is putting both at risk.

In fact, the World Economic Forum recently ranked climate and environmental issues as top global risks to business ahead of its annual summit in Davos, Switzerland. The Fourth National Climate Report, released by the White House late last year, also raised concerns about climate change and gave a deep dive into how climate change will negatively affect public health, infrastructure, and the national economy.

The potential impacts of climate change on our state is a serious concern, and we need to take action now. Community leaders, elected officials, and every Coloradan must work towards a more environmentally friendly future so that we are able to pass on a better Colorado to future generations. 

Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry generates billions of dollars in consumer spending, employs hundreds of thousands of people, and contributes billions of dollars to state and local economies. If we do not strive for a more environmentally sustainable future, our landscapes, and the joy and economic benefit they provide, will be directly affected as temperatures continue to rise. 

I want to see Colorado begin the process of moving towards a 100 percent renewable energy future. The expansion of solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources will mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on our public health and the environment, while simultaneously supporting jobs and economic development across the state. 

States like New York, Hawaii, California, and Vermont are all a part of the 50×30 club, a coalition that requires their states to produce 50 percent of renewable energy by the year 2030. Our Renewable Energy Standard currently requires investor-owned companies to generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewables. We should aim for a more substantial goal, not unlike the 50×30 club, over the next 10 years. 

The fundamental concern of climate change in Colorado is the health and safety of the public, as well as our state’s and citizens’ financial security. Renewable energy sources offer untapped potential for new jobs and industries for Coloradans, and if we work in tandem with energy companies to meet renewable-energy resource requirements we will ensure a brighter future for our economy, our health, and our environment. 

Another issue we must address is shipping electricity from sources far away from consumers. For example, Colorado Springs buys hydroelectric power from the Western Area Power Administration, a plant many miles away. The result is that a large portion of power is lost as it travels along transmission lines, which actually drives up the price of energy for Coloradans. If we push for municipalities to utilize cheaper, locally generated power we can save the average Coloradan money and increase our energy efficiency. 

In addition, modest actions such as making the switch to an electric vehicle can create a big impact. “EVs” cause less pollution and are often manufactured through eco-friendly production methods, leading to an environmentally friendly future for all. Further, electric vehicles are cheaper to run and cheaper to maintain, providing a lesser economic burden on consumers than conventional cars. I am sponsoring SB19-077, a bill to expand electric motor vehicle infrastructure through an area’s public utility services organization. This will result in increased revenue for public utilities, which results in economic benefits for those areas adopting new EV charging facilities. 

We need to take pragmatic steps to address climate change in Colorado, and I believe that a Climate Task Force would offer unique and diversified ideas to support our climate initiatives. Creating a group comprised of environmental, scientific, and business organizations, as well as public representatives, would result in robust recommendations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also keeping the best interests of Coloradans at heart. 

Climate change is real, and it will negatively impact Coloradans, our economy, and our beautiful landscapes. It is time we take real steps towards a sustainable future to protect our great state.

Angela Williams represents District 33, which includes Park Hill, in the Colorado State Senate. She can be contacted at 303-866-4864.

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