Last night, to little fanfare, the City and County of Denver unanimously approved a climate change proclamation.
This proclamation is important for a number of reasons.
First of all, it's right. As the proclamation says, science "tells us climate change is real, and a potential disaster that we must address as aggressively as possible by reducing the generation of greenhouse gasses." With rising temperatures in Colorado comes failing rains, declining snowpacks and reduced stream flows, all of which create serious and daunting challenges for everyone in Colorado.
Secondly, pollution knows no borders. Greenhouse gas especially. While Denver should do everything it can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will fail if this is done in a vacuum. That's why it is important for Denver to send a message to Colorado's federal delegation. Our federal elected officials have a lot on their plate but a message from Colorado's Capitol will help push this issue up the ladder if it is not already at the top.
Thirdly, while it is "just a proclamation," it serves to create momentum for change. Congress, the state legislature and city councils do not take votes on policy that will cut greenhouse gas emissions every day. It takes a lot of work to build up to a vote to build more zero emission vehicles or commit to 100% renewable energy. In between those votes, we need to do the organizing that moves the ball forward - release a report that spotlights a solution, author an op-ed that educates the public, train a volunteer who will gather some petitions.
Denver's proclamation is one of those actions that leads towards a big vote. It's one more tool that demonstrates the broad public support that is so critical to winning when the big votes happen. And it is one more example that we do have momentum, which in and of itself can inspire more people to do their part, which leads to even more momentum.
The City and County of Denver has a long way to go before they are the leading model for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But last night's proclamation shows that the current council believes this issue is serious, believes federal action must be part of the solution, and moves Denver a step forward. So today, it's worth providing some fanfare and saying "Thanks!"