New state greenhouse gas ‘roadmap’ calls for nearly all electric cars by 2050

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DENVER | Colorado released a new greenhouse gas pollution roadmap Thursday, detailing significant steps the state plans to take to reach its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.

Plan authors say steep 2030 reduction goals are achievable with no new technology, but that nearly all cars must be electric powered by 2050 to reduce emissions to proposed levels.

The roadmap was created following the passage of House Bill 19-1261, which the Colorado Legislature passed in 2019 requiring the state to create a plan to reduce its air pollution.

Dan Hanley, president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said that the industry supports the state’s fight against climate change.

“As a member of our state’s business community, we share the governor’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while balancing the need to improve reliability and save consumers money on their energy bills,” he said in a statement.

The state’s largest sources of emissions are from transportation, electricity generation, oil and gas development, fuel use in homes and business and industrial applications, according to the roadmap.

To cut emissions, the state plans to transition from coal to renewable energy, reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry and accelerate the transition to electric cars and buses, among other steps.

Highlights from the plan include:

  • The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions comes from cars and trucks and generating electricity, so those areas are targeted most heavily for reduction in the plan. 
  • Achieving reductions scheduled through 2030 can be done with existing technology but will require additional “actions, laws, and policies,” most likely being forced reductions and incentives.
  • 2030 goals depend on much more “green” electricity generation than currently exists in the state. 
  • Besides moving to electric vehicles, governments must create ways to reduce the need for commuting like we do now, essentially, everyone in their own car.
  • By 2050 ”nearly 100% of all cars” will have to be electric. 
  • The state must reduce methane emissions at “landfills, sewage plants and other sources, and enhancing waste reduction, recycling and diversion efforts” by 2030.

Polis introduced the roadmap at a Thursday press conference, where he stressed the importance of acting quickly to confront climate change. Even in the two years since he’s taken office Colorado has experienced multiple dramatic climate-related events, he said, including the three largest wildfires in the state’s history.

Along with protecting the environment, the plan is also vital for preserving Colorado’s economy, he said.

“In Colorado we rely on climate dependent jobs,” Polis said.

Several Colorado politicians who have helped to pass climate legislation in the state legislature joined the call, and voiced the importance of making sure that people of color and low income communities are included in the fight against climate change.

Democratic State Rep. Alex Valdez said that he represents “one of the most polluted zip codes in the country” and he knows his constituents will be happy to hear the state is taking action.

Valdez represents Colorado’s House District 5 in Denver, which includes the neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea, which has two superfund sites and multiple active polluters.

“Climate change and its consequences do not affect all communities equally,” said state representative Dominique Jackson, a prime sponsor of HB-1261.

As a Black woman, Jackson said she is used to being left out of conversations about issues that affect her life.

 “Real environmental justice means giving voice and individual power to everyone,” she said.

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