Lucy Molina and Shaina Oliver speak at the State of the Climate Rally on Jan. 13th

Thanks to all who joined us in January at the Colorado State Capitol for the State of the Climate Rally! We joined the United for Colorado’s Climate Coalition in calling for bolder climate action and calling out Governor Polis over his lack of urgency in protecting Colorado families from the climate crisis.

The event paralleled Governor Polis’s State of the State address and called for the Governor to issue an executive order declaring a climate emergency. The coalition’s demands also urge state agencies including the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to develop comprehensive plans to phase out fossil fuel production in Colorado by 2030. You can read coverage of the rally at CPR here. 

The rally built on past efforts of the United for Climate Coalition in calling on Governor Polis for stronger climate action. In November, a group representing a coalition of 30 local environmental organizations gathered on the Capitol steps to deliver a letter to Governor Polis. 9news was there to capture the event. The coalition – United for Colorado’s Climate – was demanding swift climate action from Governor Polis including declaring a climate emergency and phasing out oil and gas production by 2030.  Unfortunately, the Governor did not issue a response. 

Since the Fall, the coalition grew from the initial 30 groups to over 60 groups, with a more diverse representation of people across the state. Our list of demands grew as well to better center Coloradans who have been disproportionately impacted by climate change, environmental racism, and youth who will carry the burden of the decisions we make today. 

The coalition chose the date of Governor Polis’s State of the State address to host a parallel event focused on the state of Colorado’s climate. Unfortunately, our state leaders didn’t want the coalition’s presence at the Capitol on this day. The event was denied a permit, including denied permits by the city and the state for any public space within a square mile of the Capitol until the ACLU of Colorado got involved to intervene on our behalf. After consulting with a team of lawyers, including legal director Mark Silverstein, there was consensus to elevate our case to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Arguing that the 1st Amendment rights of everyday Coloradans were being violated by a blanket ban on events, the state would eventually relent and issue us a permit with only a week left before the big day.

So many hours were devoted to planning committees, community outreach, event promotion, alerting the media, developing an inclusive program of speakers, and on art builds. The Green House Connection Center hosted three community gatherings in the weeks leading up to the State of the Climate Rally, producing 4,000 tissue paper flames to represent the 4,000+ oil and gas wells permitted since Governor Polis took office. So much love, time, and effort were poured into preparations for this event.

United for Climate is a coalition of over 60 groups to date and we invite everyone to join and to get involved. Please join us in calling on the governor to declare a climate emergency, to phase out fossil fuel production by 2030, and to decarbonize and electrify our energy sector.

Here’s how you can take action: 

350 Colorado will continue working with this coalition of organizations representing tens of thousands of Coloradans is calling on Governor Polis to declare a climate emergency and set Colorado on a path for a just transition away from fossil fuels, beginning by phasing out fossil fuel production by 2030 and closing all coal-fired power plants by 2025.

*In case you missed the State of the Climate Rally or want to share content from the event with others, you can watch a full recording of the day’s events here on 350 Colorado’s Facebook page, or catch select clips on 350 Colorado’s YouTube channel. If you’re sharing content on social media, make sure to check out this toolkit for a list of press hits and for instructions on how to mention Governor Polis. And remember to include the hashtags #ClimateEmergency4CO & #ClimateActionNow so others can find your post!