Routt County’s tourism economy will suffer from worsening climate change



With this week’s disastrous and disheartening reports of faster global warming from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thoughts are turning to what can be done locally to help address the crisis. global climate.

The Routt County Commissioners Council and Steamboat Springs City Council both unanimously approved the 132-page Routt County Climate Action Plan on July 6, followed by a unanimous vote for adoption by the Yampa City Council last week.

“The Town of Yampa believes it is important to minimize our carbon footprint in the County and believes that working together as a County will make a united front for our community,” said Town of Yampa Clerk, Sheila Symons.

Hayden City Council plans to pass the climate action plan next week, and Oak Creek City Council is expected to consider the plan at a meeting on August 26.

Work on the plan, which can be found online at, started in March 2020 and ended in June of this year.

“It was time to take action on climate change yesterday, and I’m happy that the city, county and our entire community are starting to take aggressive action now,” said Sarah Jones, Director of Sustainability at Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. the climate action plan project management team.

“Routt County recognizes the urgent need to reduce emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” according to the CAP executive summary. “If current emission levels do not decline, county and similar mountain communities and local tourism-based economies in Colorado and the Southwest are at risk of significant impacts from regional climate changes.”

The plan notes that Routt County faces many climate impacts and risks, including drought, extreme heat, flooding, increased forest fires, reduced snowfall and changes in weather conditions. seasonal “which will have a significant impact on the daily lives of residents and visitors in the future”. According to the plan, local agriculture, air quality, cultural fabric, complex and variable economic impacts, public health, water quality and supply and watershed health are the main areas that could be the most affected by climate change.

“This plan emphasizes reducing our emissions and shows that we have a role to play in protecting our future,” said Tim Corrigan, Chairman of the Council of Commissioners. “We are stepping up our efforts and doing our part, and we are encouraging all other communities to replicate our policy and implement ideas into our plan. The only way to approach climate action is to work together on tangible solutions. “

The local plan outlines 22 strategies in the areas of energy, transport, waste, land use, economy and responsibility. If all strategies are successfully implemented, Routt County could reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 and 74% by 2050 from the 2018 emissions benchmark.

Organizers say the success of the Routt County Climate Action Plan hinges on broad collaboration and coordination within the community and suggest the creation of a Climate Action Collaborative, which is a model of accountability, partnership and accountability. coordination that has been implemented in other mountain communities, such as Eagle and Summit counties.

The next step in the process is to create a collaborative council to help move the 22 strategies forward, and city officials have offered Hayden to be the financial agent for that step, said Hayden city manager Matt Mendisco.

“Code Red for Humanity”

The latest findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which were endorsed by 195 member states on Friday, focus on the physical science behind climate change and describe how humans are altering the planet. UN Secretary General António Guterres has called the current report a “code red for humanity”.

On Monday, the panel released the sixth assessment report who notes: “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many extreme weather and climate events in all regions of the world. The evidence for observed changes in extremes, such as heat waves, heavy rainfall, droughts and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report.

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, the ocean and the land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred, ”the report says.

“The alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is compelling: Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people in immediate danger,” Guterres said in a statement Monday. “Global warming affects all regions of the Earth, with many changes becoming irreversible. The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is dangerously close.

“We are already at 1.2 degrees and rising. Warming has accelerated in recent decades. Every fraction of a degree counts. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels. Extreme weather and climate disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity, ”Guterres said.


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