Editorial: Renewed focus on climate change a welcome sight

The dire threat to our planet posed by climate change demands bold action.

Although the damage that rising temperatures have already caused has been abundantly clear for years — record-setting wildfires, droughts, floods and other extreme weather — the urgency was brought home once again during BizWest’s Net Zero Cities virtual event, April 27-28.

At that conference, dozens of speakers — including Gov. Jared Polis — outlined the challenge posed by climate change and some of the solutions that already are in play.

Colorado has long been a leader in the battle against carbon emissions, and new initiatives by local municipalities, utilities, private companies and the state promise to keep the Centennial State at the forefront of this fight.

At the same time, the Biden Administration has set an ambitious goal — some would liken it to the moon landing in scope — of halving carbon emissions nationwide by 2030. Achieving that goal will require widespread changes to the economy, including in business, energy and transportation.

But such change also creates opportunity for the U.S. economy, as well as industries in the Boulder Valley, Northern Colorado and the rest of the state. One must look no further than Vestas Wind Systems A/S in Windsor and Pueblo, or Lightning eMotors in Loveland, to see just two examples of the jobs that can be created in the clean-tech space.

Many other clean-tech companies exist along the Front Range, from solar companies to biofuels to companies and organizations engaged in engine or battery research.

We are encouraged by this renewed commitment to combating climate change at the national and global levels, but we do have some concerns:

• The planet will succeed in avoiding catastrophe only if fast-growing economies such as China and India do their part. China generated more than half of the world’s coal-fired power in 2020, according to Reuters, and continues to build more coal-fired plants. India, too, plans new coal plants. The Biden Administration must work with other world leaders to pressure and encourage China and India to find alternative solutions to their energy needs so that progress in the U.S. and other countries doesn’t go for naught.

• Northern Colorado’s traditional energy sector remains an important part of the region’s economy, and it’s important that climate activists recognize that, and the role that clean-burning natural gas plays in reducing carbon emissions. We support efforts by the state and energy producers to reduce routine flaring at natural-gas wells, helping to reduce some of the negative effects of that sector.

It’s unfortunate that efforts to combat climate change have become a partisan issue. But failure to reduce carbon emissions will continue to wreak havoc on the local, national and global economies, affecting Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.

It’s time to get serious about this fight.