Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Written by Mikkela Blanton and Leslie Glustrom

2020 was a big year for climate change in the political arena. Not only was a question about climate change asked for the first time in a presidential debate, but the President-elect ran on a strong pro-climate platform and a number of climate-related issues made their way onto the ballot in cities state- and nation-wide. Here’s an overview of some Colorado-specific climate, energy, and environmental initiatives that constituents voted on in November 2020–


Denver Ballot Measure 2A

In Denver, voters overwhelmingly (62 percent) supported Ballot Measure 2A, Sales Tax to Fund Environmental and Climate-Related Programs and TABOR Spending Limit Increase. The measure means that an additional .25 percent sales tax will be levied in order to generate roughly $40 million per year – the money will go to fund climate-related programs, including programs to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In a debate hosted by Denver Decides between Denver City Councilmember Jolon Clark and former State Chairman and Legislative Director of the Libertarian Party DK Williams, Clark spoke about the dangers of unchecked pollution and the urgency of addressing climate change. One important component of measure 2A, explained Clark, is that it would target 50 percent, at a minimum, of the revenue it raised back into low-income and POC communities, with a lens towards “equity, race, and social justice.” 

The initiative will go into effect in January 2021. Money raised from the initiative will be split into six different categories, including programs that prioritize environmental justice and encourage investment in renewable energy, as reported by The Colorado Sun. The passed ballot measure nicely complements, and will be essential in achieving, Denver’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2040. 


Boulder Ballot Measure 2C

350Colorado was saddened to see the success of Boulder Ballot Measure 2C, which means that the City of Boulder will go back under franchise with Xcel Energy for its electric and gas service. As State Representative Edie Hooton, an opponent of 2C said, “2C reinforces a 20th-century model that puts shareholder profits before the climate.” The City of Boulder learned that there are providers ready to bring Boulder and other communities 90-100% renewable electricity at a significant cost savings compared to Xcel (See here and here) and using these providers could very likely have led to faster progress in decarbonizing Boulder’s electricity. Nonetheless, by a relatively small margin, Boulder voters voted to stop the municipalization process for now and rather form a partnership with Xcel Energy. Opponents of 2C were grateful for the support of over 25,000 voters who were not willing to trust Boulder’s energy future to Xcel’s monopoly. 

350 Colorado and our allies will continue to work to accelerate the rate at which we use Colorado’s abundant wind, solar, storage, and demand management technologies to decarbonize our electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fracked gas.

Where do we go from here? 350 Colorado and partners are ramping up efforts to secure commitments from Xcel to close the remaining coal plants and enact a rapid and just transition to 100% renewable energy. During their upcoming Energy Resource Planning, we will need your voice to help. To join us as a volunteer on this important campaign email 


Boulder Ballot Measure 2D 

Voters also passed Boulder Ballot Measure 2D – Repurpose the Utility Occupation Tax, which will provide approximately $2 million for climate programs in the City of Boulder. City Staff is expected to provide a proposal to the Boulder City Council in early 2021 on how to budget these funds. Examples of goals that might be funded through the program include providing energy-related assistance to disadvantaged community members, increasing access to energy efficiency solutions, and supporting clean-energy related businesses. 350Colorado and our allies will be monitoring these efforts as they move forward.


Local Action Matters – Learn More About Colorado’s Climate Plan

Fighting climate change at the local level can have significant impacts. To be sure, over half of the world’s population now lives in cities, which means that urban, municipal-level action to curb greenhouse gas emissions can result in major carbon footprint reductions. In the face of political stalemate at the federal level and opposition at even the state level, grassroots networks can organize to pass climate-friendly measures locally, sending a powerful message about the importance of taking action on climate change and the concerns of the electorate. As the global climate movement continues to grow, the power of the people should not be underestimated. 

To learn more about the state of Colorado’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking action in the fight against climate change, refer to HB19-1261 – Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution (passed in 2019), follow the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap rulemaking process, or get involved with one of 350 Colorado’s climate campaigns

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