Last February Denver officials began the ambitious goal of creating a long-term climate action plan for the city. Their goal is to both reduce emissions and deal with the effects that climate change will bring to residents over the next several decades.
A diverse group of representatives from across Denver joined the Climate Action Task Force, which included small business, industry, environmental and religious leaders. In particular, the task force grounded itself in both the challenges to and opportunities of “inequality and equity” that climate change will bring.
The task force meetings began in January to packed rooms, fevered anticipation by supporters, and an ambitious goal of delivering a series of significant citywide policy proposals by May.
A few weeks later, COVID came to town.
With a target of delivering a set of recommendations in just 5 months, and an inability to meet in person, this presented a daunting task for the group. Despite this challenging setback, the task force conducted meetings virtually, gathered feedback from a multitude of groups and city residents, and managed to craft a set of meaningful proposals for the city that were introduced this summer.
The report’s goals are bold, starting with a 40% emission decrease by 2025 in order to achieve a 100% decrease by 2040. The recommendations for buildings and homes, transportation, electrical supply, waste management, and revenue generation will have long term benefits for Northsiders for years to come. This process, and the recommendations provided, also position Denver to become a leader in the climate and sustainability fields while saving the city billions of dollars in avoided costs. Residents just showed this leadership on November 3rd by passing ballot Measure 2A. The .25% sales tax increase passed by over 60% and will raise over 40 million dollars annually to fund this important climate work.
Northside residents could see increased access to bike lanes, expanded parks and open space, as well as financial incentives for home upgrades and more. These would be welcome priorities for an area of the city experiencing rapid growth and a quickly changing population. To be fair though, unwanted challenges like decreased curbside parking and increased housing density may also be discussions on the near horizon as well.
But these recommendations are just that – proposals. In order for them to become reality, they need to find support in the community. For Dr. Jay April, a Berkeley resident and member of the Denver Sustainability Advisory Council, the report and recommendations were welcome news. “Those of us living in Denver who want to support and promote sustainability should read the report and get involved with the recommendations. Implementing these recommendations will be ongoing tasks and require participation in order to achieve the impacts necessary to achieve its goals,” said April.
The Northside Sustainability Alliance includes over 400 residents, businesses, and members of community groups from 11 different neighborhoods across northwest Denver. I’m proud to be one of those residents. Together we are working to promote smart growth and sustainability throughout Denver’s Northside neighborhoods. Because of our commitment to both these principles of smart growth and sustainability, we believe the far-reaching recommendations from the Climate Action Report provide the necessary starting point for our community to meet the challenges ahead.
While we may not be in complete agreement with every proposal from the report, we know the threat of climate change is real, and the economic and community impacts to Denver make it imperative that we use smart planning tools to face this challenge. The strength and resilience of our Northside neighborhoods depends on it.
If you’d like to learn more about the Northwest Sustainability Alliance please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thenorthsidealliance or contact
Phone: (303) 433-2956
Keith Meyer is a local attorney and has called north Denver home for over a decade. He is a member of the Northside Sustainability Alliance steering team. If you have questions or would like to know more about getting involved with the Alliance you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.