Tree Canopy
Denver Tree Canopy © Kevin Mohatt

Stories in Colorado

Climate Action in Colorado

We are at a turning point for our climate. The past three years have been hotter than any other time in recorded history. Even with unprecedented levels of public concern, we’re not seeing change at the pace and scale we need today to avoid a climate crisis in the future. That’s why The Nature Conservancy is taking a deliberate approach in all 50 states to accelerate climate action now.

The impacts of climate change include more extreme weather, natural disasters, and chronic drought. In the face of these growing threats, we are working to combat climate change on multiple fronts in Colorado. We are fostering key partnerships, advancing state policies and using nature to store carbon.

Climate Policy

By engaging business leaders, community leaders, and elected officials, TNC is working in all 50 states to implement policies that drive the clean energy transition and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As Washington, D.C. remains slow to act, states like Colorado can lead the way for innovative climate solutions.

In 2019, we supported a successful bill to set some of the most ambitious goals in the country for cutting greenhouse gas pollution. The Climate Action Plan sets goals for Colorado to reduce greenhouse gas pollution 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.

Following the adoption of this bill in 2019, today we are working with a broad coalition to implement the Climate Action Plan and further advance policies to address the major sources of Colorado’s greenhouse gas pollution.

ALL RIGHTS. Dusk at Fox Ranch in Northeast CO.
Natural Climate Solutions Natural climate solutions have enormous potential for helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. © John Fielder

Natural Climate Solutions

Natural climate solutions leverage forests, grasslands, wetlands, and soils to capture and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Natural climate solutions have enormous potential for helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Research led by TNC shows that at a global level, natural climate solutions can provide up to 37 percent of the emission reductions needed by 2030 to keep global temperature rise under 2°C. In Colorado, we’re studying the role natural climate solutions can play in contributing to the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals, and we’re testing natural climate solutions that bring benefits to people and wildlife.

Protecting grasslands from conversion is one of the best ways to keep carbon in the soil and out of the atmosphere. Through land protection and working with ranchers to advance sustainable grazing practices, we are maintaining a carbon sink and conserving habitat.

Other effective natural climate solutions include restoring wetlandsreplanting forests that have burned in severe wildfires, planting aspen trees in targeted areas, and keeping forests healthy to prevent catastrophic wildfires in the future.

Building Partnerships

We are working with industry leaders from the health, business and outdoor recreation sectors to move the needle on climate action in Colorado. This work helps us to build a broad and diverse coalition of support for climate action and to make it a key concern for industry leaders. 

We are also partnering with the Colorado Forum, a nonpartisan group of respected business and civic leaders, to form the Healthy Colorado Initiative. This partnership will address climate change challenges and opportunities in Colorado and support attaining Colorado’s bold greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals.

Our work in cities aims to prepare for a hotter future for the people who will be most impacted by rising temperatures. In Denver, we are planting trees, partnering on regional planning, and helping make sure funds are directed toward the neighborhoods that most need more shade and trees to improve air quality. In 2019, we helped pass ballot measure 2A, which will generate nearly one billion dollars over the next twenty years for parks, rivers, trails, and trees in Denver.

Climate action will require broad-based, bipartisan collaboration from both the public and private sectors. The Nature Conservancy has taken steps to work with Colorado businesses, like Alterra, Odell Brewing Co., and Smartwool, to advance sustainability efforts and strategies. Our partnership with Vail Resorts and their 1% for the Forest effort is another strong example. This is a beneficiary project in which one percent of revenue from Epic Discovery activities at Heavenly Mountain Resort help fund important ecological restoration and conservation projects managed by The Nature Conservancy.

High-impact partnerships, on-the-ground climate solutions, and bold new policies will move the needle for Colorado’s climate.

ALL RIGHTS. Scenes from the tree planting efforts on October 13, 2018. More than 120 volunteers came together in the Denver neighborhoods of Globeville & Elyria-Swansea (GES) to plant more than 400 plants, including more than 60 trees, 300 flowers, and 50 shrubs. The greening day was the culmination of a summer-long partnership with The Park People (Denver's tree planting non-profit) and the GES - Coalition (a community-based organization focused on health and housing justice).  TNC's 13ers joined the effort and helped enormously alongside community members.
Greener Cities Our work in cities aims to prepare for a hotter future for the people who will be most impacted by rising temperatures. In Denver, we are planting trees, partnering on regional planning, and helping make sure funds are directed toward the neighborhoods that most need more shade and trees to improve. © Chris Hawkins/TNC