Statement updated on August 29, 2022
The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) wishes to thank City Council for asking City staff to bring an interim greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal forward for Council’s consideration on August 16th. We also wish to thank City staff for developing a forecast of our community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory by 2026, based on currently planned projects and anticipated variability factors.
The FCSG supports establishing an interim goal for 2026, rather than for 2025 as we originally advocated. As staff points out, this will allow for the completion of two full budget cycles after the goal is adopted, giving council more opportunity to influence the results than would otherwise be the case.
We are pleased to see that the upper end of staff’s estimate based on currently planned projects is 48% GHG emissions reductions by 2026 compared to the 2005 baseline. This is only slightly below the straight-line progress from 2020 to the 2030 goal for which we have long advocated. Straight-line or “linear” progress would be 56% emissions reductions by 2026.
The FCSG has previously argued that making steady, straight-line progress to our ambitious community goal of 80% emissions reductions by 2030 is important from both a scientific and a management perspective. While the justification for linear progress from a management perspective can be debated, the justification from a scientific perspective cannot. As we have stated before, the long residence time of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means that early emissions reductions will have a much larger positive impact on reducing global warming than emissions reductions of the same magnitude that are made at a later time. Delaying GHG emissions reductions lessens the likelihood of preserving a livable climate.
As Resolution 2022-094 points out in its opening clause, the Fort Collins Community and its elected leaders have long put a high priority on addressing the climate emergency. Being a leader in this critically important area requires adopting strong GHG emission reduction goals and then working with community members to put programs in place that will achieve those goals. The staff forecast shows that the gap between what is currently in the works and where we ought to be in 2026 is not large. It is now up to members of City Council to set an ambitious interim goal of at least 56% emissions reductions by 2026, and then support the measures needed to get there. We can only hope that the good example we set here in Fort Collins will encourage other communities and governments to do what is required to avert the worst of the climate crisis.
Update: At its meeting on August 16th, council voted to postpone consideration of an interim greenhouse gas reduction goal until October 25th. The FCSG will continue advocating for a strong goal, which we hope to see approved then.