Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and our state is on the front lines of this crisis, with shorter winters, catastrophic floods and wildfires, and continued air pollution. While Colorado is playing a leadership role in the face of the Trump Administration’s destructive attacks on our environment, we must do more. Our planet’s health, economic well-being, and national security are all at risk. It is imperative that we address the climate challenges we face with a fierce sense of urgency — human lives and livelihoods are at stake.
As a former geologist, I have based my plan on the best available science of today. First and foremost, we are calling for a transition to a 100% renewable energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of a 43% reduction below 2005 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — exactly where many of the world’s leading scientists tell us we need to go.
From day one as senator, I will fight to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, enforce stricter standards on methane pollution and other harmful emissions, dramatically accelerate development of wind and solar energy, and reverse President Trump and Senator Gardner’s retrogressive and reckless policies.
We need a bold, science-based approach to climate change that includes:
A job-creating clean energy plan for America. We support an ambitious effort to move the United States to a clean energy future of net-zero emissions no later than 2050. In the Senate, I will fight to:
- Make large-scale investment in government-funded climate technology research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to accelerate innovation, including investing in carbon capture, utilization, and storage technology; continued improvements in the development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar; and in energy-storage technologies.
- Reinvent America’s transportation system, including electric-vehicle charging infrastructure and making America’s electric grid more intelligent, reliable, secure, efficient, and resilient. I support raising fuel economy standards with the goal of moving to a 100% electric vehicle fleet. We also support investing in improving the energy efficiency of buildings across the country by focusing on revising building standards and providing support to local governments and the private sector to meet the new standards.
- Develop our workforce with laser-like focus on training young people and people transitioning out of the fossil fuel industry into green jobs. We should bring together the business community, labor unions, and educational institutions to create apprenticeships and skills training programs that create pathways to good-paying, stable jobs and careers.
- Create a new Climate Corps Program, challenging young people to pursue careers that help combat global climate change. It would include a new set of scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to encourage a new generation of renewable-energy experts, carbon-capture specialists, energy-storage scientists, and entrepreneurs who can help to address climate change and make America a global leader in climate technology.
- Implement a carbon dividend plan, which experts agree is one critical component of the necessary market incentives to quickly and cost-effectively lower carbon emissions, while also promoting U.S. economic growth. Revenue generated from a price on carbon would be returned directly to American taxpayers as a dividend, more than offsetting any potential increase in energy costs.
- Ensure equity as we tackle climate change so that the vulnerable communities hardest hit by poor air quality, polluted water, toxic pollution, drought, rising sea levels, wildfires, and floods have a seat at the table in developing equitable climate strategies.
Global leadership toward even bolder climate change goals. This is a global challenge — the U.S. accounts for 15% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions — and the only way to combat climate change is with immediate and sustained international cooperation and ambitious American leadership. We need to be going further than the Paris Climate Agreement goals and creating new linkages between global climate change goals and America’s foreign and trade policies. We must:
- Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and make updates to the agreement that inspire and embolden the global community to take decisive action. We need a commitment to create climate financing for developing countries, a key commitment under the Paris Agreement and a direct contrast with the misguided policies of the Trump Administration, which reneged on American commitments to the world’s leading climate finance mobilization arm, the Green Climate Fund, and other key initiatives. Achieving the Paris targets will help a great deal, but we must commit ourselves to more. Even if all countries meet their targets, it will not hold the rise in global temperature to the “well below 2 degrees Celsius” goal set in the Paris Agreement.
- Ratify the Kigali Amendment, which requires countries to freeze and then phase out dangerous hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
- Require that greenhouse gas emissions goals to combat climate change are set and enforced as part of any new U.S. trade agreement, as part of a new policy of “open and fair trade.” In order to bring the full weight of America’s global leadership to bear on this challenge, I will also condition certain U.S. foreign aid and foreign military assistance on cooperation with climate change efforts by recipient countries.
The Colorado Record
As Denver’s Mayor and Colorado’s Governor, I brought people together to launch clean-energy projects and enact pioneering climate change legislation. As a small-business owner, I know that being asked to decide between good jobs and a clean environment is a false choice. And, as a trained geologist, I will bring a practical, fact-based understanding of Earth science to the Senate, in the same way that I accomplished the following:
- Developed First-in-the-Nation Methane Emissions Regulations. I brought industry groups and environmentalists together to make Colorado the first state to limit methane pollution from oil and gas wells. Colorado’s “gold standard” rules were estimated to cut the equivalent of 340,000 cars’ worth of emissions and cut methane leaks by over half.
- Expanded Transit in Denver. As Mayor of Denver, we brought together suburban mayors to create the region’s first light rail system, the largest such expansion in modern American history. In the end, all 34 metro mayors unanimously supported building 119 miles of new track across the state.
- Committed Colorado to the Paris Climate Agreement. I committed Colorado to the Paris Climate Agreement after President Trump withdrew, issuing an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26%, maximize renewable energy use, and increase electric vehicle use.
- Fought Back Against Trump Emission Standards Rollback and Made Colorado an Electric Vehicle Leader. In 2018, I issued an executive order to adopt low-emission vehicle standards in response to the Trump Administration moving to roll back stricter fuel efficiency and vehicle emission standards. I also released an Electric Vehicle Plan and led a Western states compact to expand and invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.
- Made Protecting Public Lands a Priority and Grew Colorado’s Outdoor Economy. I opposed privatizing public lands, helped grow Colorado’s outdoor economy that supports 229,000 jobs and generates billions in economic activity by creating an Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, and sided with local stakeholders against allowing oil and gas drilling in nearly 200,000 acres near the Thompson Divide.
- Oversaw Retirement of Two Coal-Fired Power Plants and Moved Toward Renewable Energy. During our Administration, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy’s Colorado Energy Plan to retire two of its coal-fired power plants and replace their capacity with renewable energy and battery storage.
- Signed Landmark Rural Renewable Energy Standard Into Law. I signed legislation doubling renewable energy requirements for rural electric cooperatives.
- Jump-started the Planting of a Million New Trees in and Around Denver. I launched an unprecedented regional initiative to plant a million trees across the Denver region over 20 years.
- Signed Kyoto Protocols. While I was Mayor, Denver signed the Kyoto Protocols in 2005 to reduce global warming.