Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Boulder City Council Looking At Climate Plan 2.0

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News out of Boulder, CO: a reassessment of the city’s climate plan started this week.  There are a couple of reasons for this reassessment.  First, Bolder voters approved plans to move forward with municipalization of utility services due in part to friction with Xcel Energy.  Second, the city’s carbon tax is set to expire in 2013 and Councilmembers want to figure out if they can/should ask voters to extend the tax.  The following is an important component of the news:

The city in 2002 adopted the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Now that 2012 has arrived, the city still needs to cut the equivalent of about 521,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide to meet its goal.

That’s quite a bit of CO2.  It would take approximately 744 GWh of electricity generation to emit that much CO2.  Obviously some commentators jumped on this announcement and declared Boulder’s effort a complete failure.  What it constitutes is what the official interviewed declared:

“It’s not quite as easy as we thought,” Huntley said.

There is no problem with that – it’s a frank admission and better it’s made now than never.  It’s the same lesson I learned through analysis on a project in graduate school last semester.  The scale of the mitigation problem is many times larger than most people, even experts, realize – simply because they haven’t looked at the problem from every vantage point before.  As more and more people realize the enormity of the situation, the goals we set will become more and more realistic.

This is one of the topics I will write additional posts on moving forward.  Now that people have a solid grasp on the fact that anthropogenic global warming is increasingly making its presence felt around the globe, people need to realize how enormous the mitigation problem really is.  Only then will viable solutions be developed and implemented.  Kudos to Boulder and other cities for taking this issue on, even without having all the requisite information at their fingertips.

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