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Denver Releases 80x50 Climate Action Plan

Plan Calls for Deep Decarbonization in Buildings, Transportation and Electricity Generation

DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Mile High Connects Executive Director Jeff Su, Alliance Center Executive Director Brenna St. Onge, and Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) reaffirmed the City’s leadership in combatting climate change and embracing clean energy with the release of the City’s 80x50 Climate Action Plan.

“Cities like Denver will continue to push forward on clean energy,” Mayor Hancock said. “We have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure clean air and a stable climate for our children. Cities generate more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and we are a crucial part of the climate solution.”

The plan highlights key strategies in the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the City: buildings, transportation and electricity generation. Denver’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baseline levels by 2050 in order to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, deep decarbonization – the reduction of the amount of climate-altering carbons such as CO2 – is needed across all three sectors. Today many clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, are available and affordable with clear benefits to health and quality of life.

"The Lancet medical journal has described climate change as both the leading threat to public health in the 21st century, and also the biggest opportunity to realize the benefits clean energy and energy efficiency can bring to clean our air, preserve and protect scarce water supplies, and make our cities more livable,” said Bob McDonald, Executive Director of DDPHE.

Developed by DDPHE, the plan positions Denver as one of just a handful of U.S. cities that have released an actionable 80x50 climate-change and clean energy blueprint – notable because cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions – and includes interim targets to:

  • Reduce total community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025, a more aggressive goal than the Paris climate accords
  • Make all new buildings net-zero by 2035
  • Achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in municipal facilities by 2025 and community-wide by 2030
  • Increase electric vehicle registrations in Denver to 30 percent by 2030

“Interim goals are imperative in order for us to track progress and continually reassess methodologies,” Mayor Hancock said. “A variety of approaches are needed to reach the long-term objectives, and the City will lead the way in achieving meaningful strides toward these critical goals, while also calling upon the community to join us in our efforts.”

The 80x50 plan was developed after a thorough review of dozens of strategies, activities, and best practices from many cities around the world. A robust stakeholder engagement process helped to vet these strategies. National and regional experts in buildings, transportation and power generation supported the process and guided the development of targets and strategies.

In addition, Denver is one of 35 Champion Cities in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge. Our project will deploy cutting-edge air pollution sensor technology to create a city-wide air quality monitoring network at public schools, resulting in better informed policy decisions using environmental and health data. In Denver and many other cities, transportation is the largest source of air pollution and the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing pollution from this sector will help achieve both climate and health benefits.

Meanwhile, Denver is on track to meet its 2020 climate goal to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels in part through the efforts of Xcel Energy, the nation’s leading Wind Energy producer, and community advocates to increase renewable energy on the grid and decrease energy consumption through efficiency. In addition, high-impact policies and programs have been rolled out in recent years to drive emissions down in the buildings and transportation sectors. The benchmarking and transparency ordinance passed in 2016 has achieved a compliance rate of over 90% in its first year, and is expected to deliver energy savings of at least 2-3% annually – as observed in other cities – through improved operations and maintenance of large buildings, and better valuation of efficiency in the market.

To reduce emissions in the transportation sector, Denver will continue to prioritize walking, biking, and public transit. More travel lanes will be transit-only, and major investments are planned for sidewalks, neighborhood bikeways, and protected bike lanes. Electrification of the transportation sector, from vehicles to public transit, will also be accelerated rapidly, and the City will invest more than $415.5 million in transportation and mobility projects in the next few years as part of the voter-approved Elevate Denver Bond package, more than half of which will address transportation emissions. In addition, Denver is partnering with the cities of Seattle, New York and Portland on a U.S. Department of Energy grant that will create smart new options for shared mobility that also takes advantage of the climate and air quality benefits of electric vehicles.

For more information or to view Denver’s 80x50 Climate Action Plan as well as the Climate Adaptation Plan and the 2020 Sustainability Goals, visit www.denvergov.org/climate.