An Update on Denver's Sustainability Goals

Sourced from 303 Magazine

With the recent weather patterns making even skeptical people think about climate change, it is an opportune time to create dialogue around the issues we can work to solve. That’s why last week, Mayor Hancock and city officials gathered for a panel discussion with the public about Denver’s Climate Action Plan. The sold-out event at The Alliance Center on Wednesday, January 17 proved that people care and want to know how to lead more sustainable lifestyles. City officials have been working on sustainability goals for many years now, including reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050, fuel switching, 2020 sustainability goals, innovative public-private partnerships, benchmarking and increased transparency between the city and the public. Though the city must take decisive action and show leadership in these topics, the public needs to know how they can help on an individual level.

The four panelists at the event represented sectors of government that are currently working on sustainability goals. They were: Thomas Herrod, Climate and Policy Analyst; Katrina Managan, Energy Efficient Buildings Lead at Denver Department of Public Health and Environment; Crissy R. Fanganello, Director of Transportation and Mobility and Charlotte Pit, manager of Solid Waste Management at Denver Public Works.

Herrod explained about the panel event, “what I wanted to convey to the group is that Denver is taking a really active and leading role and we are really proud of our efforts. Since 2007 we’ve reduced community-wide emissions by almost 10 percent— that’s with population growth increase between 80 to 100,000 people. Tempering our excitement, however, we know we have a really big job in front of us to meet our 2050 goals. We are hoping to engage the community and get their support in helping us meet those.”

Denver’s Sustainability Goals
Denver’s 2020 Sustainability Goals, released in 2013, focus on improving air quality, climate change, energy, food, health, housing, land use, materials, mobility, workforce and water quantity and quality. The city provides progress reports on these goals periodically and has committed to even more calls to action in the last several years, such as hosting the Solar Decathlon last year and directing approximately $150 million toward affordable housing development and preservation. As Herrod mentioned, booming population growth in Denver adds another obstacle toward achieving the sustainability goals and should be taken into consideration when analyzing the city’s progress. The 2020 goals were implemented by Mayor Hancock after Denver achieved success in lowering greenhouse gas emissions by three percent in 2010 as a result of the first Climate Action Plan started in 2007. As 2020 loomed nearer, Denver looked further ahead and at loftier goals, especially in the area of air quality.

The 2050 goals were set out by Mayor Hancock in 2015 as a more aggressive way to address greenhouse gas emissions, aiming to lower them by 80 percent of baseline 2005 levels by 2050. As Herrod stated, emissions have been reduced by 10 percent in a decade which means there is still a lot of work to be done.  

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