The city of Boulder is launching its next phase of climate action with an event on Sept. 26. The event will include a presentation and an orientation to the new phase of action. Attendees will be able to gameplan, learn about current climate action activities and sign up to participate in formulating Boulder’s new climate plan.
Brett KenCairn, Senior Policy Advisor for Climate, Sustainability & Resilience for the city of Boulder, says the city is zeroing in on equity. He says the city was largely influenced by feedback from community members to focus on equity and various other strategies such as resilience, land use and financial systems.
“In a sense, where we used to think that what climate action looked like is whether I rode my bike or whether I put solar panels on my house, and that meant that a lot of people couldn’t act around climate if they didn’t have those assets or resources,” KenCairn says. “Now we have a whole new realm of actions, which is, ‘Where is our money? And how are we influencing that through those choices?”
Some of the pensions for Boulder’s state employees come from fossil fuel industries, and KenCairn says the city is looking into revising who its business partners are. He added that the city hopes community members will make similar decisions about where their money comes from.
The city of Boulder is finding new ways to draw carbon out of surrounding rural and urban ecosystems, according to KenCairn. The city plans to work with agriculture to use natural systems to lower the carbon footprint because cutting back on fossil fuels simply wasn’t going to get the job done.
“One of the really important findings that came out from the IPCC — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last fall — was that not only was climate change happening faster than we had hoped, but actually that emissions reduction alone was not gonna be sufficient to stabilize climate.”
Boulder is the first city in the world to launch a carbon drawdown initiative, according to KenCairn, and Boulder plans to work with other cities around the world to create a similar initiative on a global scale. KenCairn says there’s a lot that can be done locally in addition to the global efforts to bring down the carbon footprint, such as strengthening the soil carbon base to hold water and improve food quality. Actions like these not only have an environmental benefit, but are also more financially healthy.
As this global network grows, KenCairn says there will be noticeable local changes as well, such as growth or urban forestry and the development of more solar resources and renewable energy. He said the city also hopes to involve more community members in the local initiative, and to make renewable energy easier for all community members to access.
Thursday’s action planning event is the beginning of a process where the community will be invited to participate in climate activities at whatever areas or levels they are most interested in. The event will be held from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building on the University of Colorado Boulder’s campus. All community members are welcome, and an RSVP is encouraged but not required.