Jefferson County, Colorado recently completed its first-ever Climate Action Plan. This year-long effort tackled the complexity of countywide action planning, including building goals and solutions that reflect the county’s geographic and demographic diversity. The plan takes a dual approach to climate action: reducing GHG emissions and reducing climate risk for all people, with a priority of those experiencing the greatest disparities. Two themes were prevalent throughout the planning process: partnership-driven, and equity-centered.
This Climate Action Plan is one of the first of its kind – a countywide plan to reduce emissions not only in unincorporated areas, but also in incorporated jurisdictions. From city living in Edgewater to the mountain setting of Pine, Jefferson County has many diverse characteristics, and each requires a tailored approach to climate action. This diversity necessitated a partnership-driven planning process to identify relevant strategies and implementation resources.
The County government worked with local governments, special districts, utilities, and community members to advance common climate goals across the entire community. Organizations like Jefferson County Public Health and the Sustainability Commission played a large role in bringing cities and towns together and in representing members of the community who experience the worst of climate change impacts. This type of community-wide collaboration and partnership during the planning phase set the County up to successfully hit the ground running. In the months immediately following plan adoption, the County and their partner jurisdictions began working together to apply for environmental justice grants that would implement plan solutions.
Another key element of this plan is Jefferson County’s commitment to equitable engagement during implementation through building relationships and collaborating on climate initiatives with community members who are disproportionately impacted by climate change. This commitment was supported through equity-based planning components, including: 1) identifying disproportionately impacted communities through mapping, and 2) incorporating equity considerations into every solution (such as prioritizing tree plantings and energy efficiency support in communities with lower incomes or at greater risk to climate change impacts). Additionally, the plan was fully translated into Spanish to allow for greater access and partnerships. By weaving equity into implementation efforts, the community members most impacted by climate change will have greater access to resources and technologies to help them adapt and thrive.
Read the full plan here.