This week, over 100 elected officials, environmental justice groups, community groups, and others released an open letter highlighting that Colorado’s Climate Action Plan requires the state to engage “disproportionately impacted communities” in its current policy making.
Released days before the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is expected to present to the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC), the letter makes clear that state equity advocates expect Governor Jared Polis, the Colorado Energy Office, and the AQCC to meaningfully engage communities that are on the front lines of climate change in the climate policy planning process, center their needs in policymaking, and reduce pollution in these communities, as required by law.
“As one of the original sponsors of Colorado’s Climate Action Plan, I want to be clear: our state must engage the most impacted communities in its plan to meet our emissions reduction targets to mitigate climate change,” said Colorado State Representative Dominique Jackson, who signed the letter. “Any recommendations coming from the roadmap process must be both good for the climate and especially, at risk communities.”
“Climate Justice is what we seek. This is only achievable if frontline communities, including workers, are centered from the beginning and at the forefront of both decision-making processes and priorities. For too long we have been absent from the process. Nothing about us, without us.”
Ean Thomas Tafoya, GreenLatinos
Despite the requirements in Colorado’s Climate Action Plan that call for this engagement, the AQCC and the state have not yet identified “disproportionately impacted communities,” provided ample opportunity for input, or implemented measurable rules to reduce harmful air pollution affecting these communities in the upcoming Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.
“For Montbello, it’s important that communities take control of their destiny – they know the ins and outs of their neighborhoods and the treasures that their neighbors hold. It’s critical that the Climate Action Roadmap not only seek input from residents, but incorporate their insights as we create a healthier, safer Colorado,” said Donna Garnett, executive director of Montbello Organizing Committee and Mile High Connects steering committee member.
To ensure equitable policy outcomes and community engagement, the signatories call on the AQCC and the state to engage and consult with disproportionately impacted communities, center community-driven solutions, minimize—or better yet, avoid—burdens to frontline communities, guarantee that the benefits of compliance promote the health and resilience of communities, and ensure tracking, data collection, and accountable reporting. For more details on these principles, please see the full letter here.
“Climate Justice is what we seek. This is only achievable if frontline communities, including workers, are centered from the beginning and at the forefront of both decision-making processes and priorities. For too long we have been absent from the process. Nothing about us, without us,” stated Ean Thomas Tafoya Colorado Climate and Water Organizer, GreenLatinos.
“Climate Change is already disproportionately impacting people of color and the places where we live, work, and recreate; and this problem will only increase as our climate continues to be affected by our actions. That is why any Colorado solution that addresses climate change also has to be an equitable solution. Colorado must take into account—and act upon—the lived experience and opinions of those already suffering the disproportionate impacts of climate change as we seek solutions that do not further exacerbate inequality,” said Juan Gallegos, Director of Protégete.
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