Climate Protection Fund

On November 3, 2020, Denverites passed Ballot Initiative 2A.  raising the local sales and use tax by 0.25% to create the Climate Protection Fund (CPF). The CPF raises $40M annually to act urgently to mitigate the causes of climate change and to center that work on equity. Our goal is that over half of this fund goes to communities in Denver most harmed by climate change impacts. This includes people of color and Indigenous people, low-income communities, people living with chronic health conditions, babies, children, and older adults.. 

What are the origins of the Climate Protection Fund?

In Colorado, all tax initiatives must be voted on by the people. Neither a local government nor the state legislature can raise tax rates without voter approval. 
In early 2019, Resilient Denver, a resident-led grassroots organization, successfully mounted a signature effort to put an energy tax on the 2019 ballot. The proposal would levy a tax based on the electricity and natural gas used by all Xcel Energy customers in the City and County of Denver. The proposal was projected to raise $30-$40M annually. Through a deliberative process with Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council, Resilient Denver tabled its ballot measure, providing time for the city to create a Climate Action Task Force and the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency.

The Climate Action Task Force, appointed by Mayor Hancock, began deliberations in January 2020. The Task Force explored several financial mechanisms to raise the funding needed to advance Denver’s climate action and sustainability goals. The consensus was that a sales tax would be less regressive than a tax on energy consumption. In Denver, food, water, fuel, medical supplies, and feminine hygiene products are exempt from sales taxes. 70% of sales taxes are paid by non-Denver residents (e.g., regional and out-of-state visitors). This further reduces the burden on those least able to pay.

The Task Force presented its recommendations to the City Council in August 2020. The same month Council President Jolon Clark sponsored Council Bill 20-0684 to put the sales tax on the November 2020 Ballot. The bill passed the City Council on a vote of 11-2 and became Ballot Measure 2A.

What can the city use the Climate Protection Fund on?

The Climate Protection Fund has six categories of allowable uses:
  1. Job creation through local workforce training and new careers for under-resourced individuals in clean energy technology and management of natural resources.
  2. Increased investments in solar power, battery storage, and other renewable energy technology.
  3. Neighborhood-based environmental and climate justice programs.
  4. Adaptation and resiliency programs that help vulnerable communities prepare for a changing climate.
  5. Programs and services that provide affordable, clean, safe and reliable transportation choices, like walking, biking, transit, electric vehicles, and neighborhood-scale transit.
  6. Upgrade the energy efficiency of homes, offices and industry to reduce their carbon footprint, utility bills, and indoor air pollution. 

What is the long-term plan for the Climate Protection Fund?

In November 2021, CASR presented the Climate Protection Fund Five-Year Plan to Mayor Michael Hancock, the City Council and the Sustainability Advisory Council. This plan outlines the investment strategy for the fund, its focus on equity, our framework for stakeholder engagement, and the financial outlook for the next five years.

As noted in the plan, hundreds of stakeholders contributed to its development and our commitment to engaging with our colleagues, external partners, and residents will continue.

Funding Opportunities

The City and County of Denver officially distributes public solicitation documents - Bids and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) - through the BidNet Direct Rocky Mountain E-Purchasing System (RMEPS).