C.R.S. Section 24-38.8-101
Legislative declaration


The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:


Ensuring a thriving future for the state of Colorado and its citizens requires a collaborative, coordinated, and proactive statewide effort to identify, plan for, address, and avoid any detrimental impacts of climate change. Avoiding future disasters, and detrimental impacts to our natural systems, built environment, and people, by means of thorough and coordinated planning and preparedness will be more efficient and cost effective than short-term solutions.


Undertaking a data-driven, comprehensive, and aggregate analysis of population and environmental trends to understand the likely impact on Colorado’s infrastructure, people, landscapes, ecosystems, and communities will aid in informing the state and local governments about potential threats; aligning resources; identifying gaps in policy, coordination, or communication; and developing efficient, effective, and equitable solutions.


A comprehensive, strategic plan for how Colorado can grow in a manner that achieves the state’s climate mitigation goals and adapts to a warming climate will provide the state with a path for becoming more climate-resilient, affordable, inclusive, and economically competitive.


In 2015, the state of Colorado wisely undertook a long-term, comprehensive, living approach to evaluating and planning the future of the state’s water resources through the development of the Colorado water plan. Much as water is the lifeblood of the state, Colorado’s climate future is vital to the health of Colorado communities. The state, therefore, should make the same effort to address its climate future as it does to address water conservation given the demonstrated and increasing impacts of climate change on the state’s communities, infrastructure, and natural systems.


The state of Colorado is expected to continue to grow, adding more than one million eight hundred thousand new people between 2020 and 2050. This population growth will lead to dynamic shifts in how the movement of goods and people impacts statewide resources, systems, communities, economies, and the state’s public lands, air, water resources, and wildlife resources.


While Colorado grows, a changing climate is already showing increasingly long-term detrimental effects on our water resources, public lands, wildlife populations, and forest health, as well as our public infrastructure, built environment, and public health.


The number of disasters around the world has increased by a factor of five over the previous fifty years, and the rate of increase is expected to continue and accelerate. Colorado continues to experience significant climate change induced natural disasters, including wildfires, drought, flash flooding, and mudslides that have resulted in significant increases in the use of state resources and work time expended by state employees. By 2050, without significant interventions, the average area of our state burned by fire each year is expected to increase anywhere from fifty percent to two hundred percent.


The general assembly, through House Bill 19-1261, enacted in 2019, has set goals to ensure that the state will reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Relative to 2005 levels, the state has set goals to reduce greenhouse gas pollution statewide by twenty-six percent by 2025, fifty percent by 2030, and ninety percent by 2050.


The state’s natural systems, lands, waters, air, and wildlife face significant impacts from climate change and changing demographics, and represent foundational elements of Colorado’s character, statewide economies, and local economies. A comprehensive approach to climate preparedness must address the needs of the state’s natural systems, lands, waters, air, and wildlife to ensure thriving systems and their long-term health. A comprehensive approach to climate preparedness should support the critical role that voluntary and incentive-based conservation measures play in supporting agricultural producers and private landowners while achieving broader ecosystem benefits. A comprehensive approach to climate preparedness should also address the need to ensure resilient and connected landscapes that are critically important for ecosystem health in facing the impacts of climate change.


Following passage of the federal “American Rescue Plan Act”, the United States congress has passed the once-in-a-generation, federal “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” that will directly provide over three billion dollars to Colorado for critical infrastructure and other areas of needed investment over the next five years. These rare, one-time investments will have a profound impact on the way the state grows. These investments should be planned and undertaken in concert with the goals articulated by House Bill 19-1261, in a manner that seeks to avoid future disasters and support climate adaptation needs, and are assisted by a coordinated effort.


The state can realize the best outcomes in preparing for climate and demographic changes by promoting strong partnerships with local governments and community partners; identifying needs, support, and incentives for local communities; and fostering coordination among local governments to achieve regional and statewide benefits.


The state must ensure that equity, environmental justice, and representation are central considerations of state preparedness, planning, coordination, and outcomes. Equity must be a key value in preparing for a world that is impacted by climate change and ever increasing disasters to ensure the representation of those communities that stand to be the most affected by a changing climate.

Source: Section 24-38.8-101 — Legislative declaration, https://leg.­colorado.­gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/crs2023-title-24.­pdf (accessed Oct. 20, 2023).

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Current through Fall 2024

§ 24-38.8-101’s source at colorado​.gov