This page provides an overview of the steps Colorado is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
On November 5, 2007, Governor Bill Ritter called on the state to prepare for and adapt to climate changes that cannot be avoided and the state released the Colorado Climate Action Plan: A Strategy to Address Global Warming. On April 22, 2008, Governor Ritter created the state's Climate Change Advisory Panel and called on the panel to make recommendations on how the state could achieve the goals of Colorado's Climate Action Plan, including by developing adaptation strategies (Executive Order B007 08).
In December 2011, Governor Ritter initiated the Colorado Climate Preparedness Project to identify adaptation actions that the state could take to reduce the vulnerabilities to climate impacts. The Western Water Assessment, a university-based applied research program from the University of Colorado, Boulder, administered the project in partnership with a team of representatives from the Governor’s Energy Office, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Also in 2011, the Western Water Assessment produced the Colorado Climate Preparedness Project Final Report. The report identified climate risks and adaptation goals in the following sectors: water; wildlife, ecosystems, and forests; electricity; agriculture; and outdoor recreation. The report also identified cross-cutting goals that are relevant to multiple sectors.
In May 2013, the Colorado legislature directed the Governor to create a position within the executive branch to coordinate the state's climate preparedness activities (Colorado House Bill (HB) 13-1293). HB 13-1293 also called for state agencies to produce an annual report on how to reduce emissions and develop a climate action plan to prepare the state for the effects of climate change that takes into account previous state actions and efforts.
To fulfill HB 13-1293’s requirement to develop a climate action plan, the state released the Colorado Climate Plan in September 2015. The plan is a statewide strategy with policy recommendations and actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to increase Colorado’s climate preparedness through adaptation. This plan was developed by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Department of Public Health and Environment, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, the Colorado Energy Office, the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and the Department of Local Affairs, with input from key stakeholders.
In May 2015, the Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office created the Colorado Resiliency Framework. The framework identifies strategies to strengthen and increase resilience to natural and man-made hazards throughout Colorado, providing guiding principles and tools for community stakeholders. The report describes the risks and vulnerabilities faced by the state, adaptive strategies and monitoring metrics for six key resiliency sectors (infrastructure, economic, community, health and social, housing, and watersheds and natural resources), and cross-sectoral strategies that could be implemented at the state level.
In July 2017, Governor John Hickenlooper signed Executive Order D 2017-015, which committed the state to additional climate actions, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and incorporating these emissions reductions goals into the 2015 Colorado Climate Plan. The executive order also requires appropriate state agencies to identify and collaborate with local governments to increase their climate change resilience.
In 2018, Governor Hickenlooper updated the 2015 plan, releasing the 2018 Colorado Climate Plan (“the 2018 Plan”). The updated plan includes new climate resiliency goals, for example, regarding state actions at the local level; and reports on state adaptation progress since 2015.
These pages highlight the progress Colorado is making to implement its statewide adaptation plan. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Colorado prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: June 25, 2018).
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|Colorado Executive Order 2017-015: Supporting Colorado’s Clean Energy Transition||Law and Governance||July 11, 2017|
|Colorado HB 13-1293: Creates climate change position in executive branch||Law and Governance||May 28, 2013|
|Colorado Executive Order B007 08||Law and Governance||April 22, 2008|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Colorado Climate Plan 2018 Update: State Level Policies and Strategies to Mitigate and Adapt||Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Energy, Public health, Tourism and recreation, Transportation, Water resources||July 2018|
|Ripple Effects: Colorado's Water Plan in Action 2017||Water resources||November 2017|
|Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan: A Strategy for Conserving Wildlife in Colorado||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Land management and conservation, Wildlife||2015|
|Colorado Climate Plan - State Level Policies and Strategies to Mitigate and Adapt||Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Energy, Forestry, Public health, Tourism and recreation, Transportation, Water infrastructure, Water resources||September 16, 2015|
|Colorado Resiliency Framework||Business, Emergency preparedness, Land use and built environment, Public health, Water resources||May 28, 2015|
|Colorado Drought Mitigation Response Plan||Agriculture and food, Energy, Land use and built environment, Tourism and recreation, Water resources||September 2010|
|Colorado Climate Action Plan (2007)||Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and ecosystems, Forestry, Public health, Water resources||November 2007|
|City of Boulder, Colorado Resilience Strategy||April 2016|
|Climate Change & Aspen: An Update on Impacts to Guide Resiliency Planning & Stakeholder Engagement||December 2014|
|City and County of Denver, Colorado Climate Adaptation Plan||June 24, 2014|
|Boulder County, Colorado Climate Change Preparedness Plan||May 3, 2012|
|Boulder's Greenways Master Plan||2011|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Colorado Resiliency Resource Center||Planning|
|Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado||Solutions||November 2017|
|2016 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests: Fire and Water||Assessments||January 2017|
|Colorado Water Conservation Board Drought Planning Toolbox||Data and tools|
|The Report of the Colorado Local Resilience Project||Planning||April 23, 2015|
|Colorado Climate Vulnerability Study||Assessments||January 2015|
|Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation (2014)||Assessments||August 2014|
|Colorado Climate Preparedness Project: Final Report||Assessments||2011|
|Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation||Assessments||2008|
|Colorado Climate Preparedness Project Adaptation Database||Adaptation Websites|