Written by Jessica Isaacs

We have a Roadmap, but dude, where’s my car? 

It’s been almost one month since Colorado released their Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap. And let me tell you, I had been really looking forward to reading it. I’m the type of person who plans out, likely in an over-the-top excel spreadsheet,  every detail of a road trip: where I’m going to camp each night, which trails I’m going to hike, exciting stops along the way, gas costs from point A to point B, park entrance fees, and then I leave some flexibility for whatever eye-catching thing comes along. So, when I heard that the Colorado Energy Office was finally releasing it’s long-awaited Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap, a legal requirement under last year’s House Bill 19-1261 and an existential requirement with the ever-deepening threat and current-day reality of climate change, I was on the edge of my seat. And, boy, was it a disappointment.   It was less of a roadmap and more of a travel brochure. It may have a destination in mind and a few pit stops along the way, but without a GPS and coordinates you’d get lost!

But let’s back up a bit. Last year, the Colorado legislature voted HB 19-1261, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, into law. This landmark victory set ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals for the state: a 26% GHG emissions reduction by 2025, 50% reduction by 2030, and 90% reduction by 2050. Not quite the net-zero emissions as we’d hoped, but on the right path! This legislation aimed to address Colorado’s contribution to the climate crisis and curb emissions that accelerate climate change, adversely impact public health, respiratory health, and Colorado’s natural resources and environments, and drive Colorado’s worsening air pollution problem.

Experts say that we are at an important crossroads. We need bold climate action now and an entire reworking across all sectors if we want to have a fighting chance of staying below a 1.5 ℃ increase in global temperatures from the pre-industrial average. This is the maximum increase we can allow if we want a safe and habitable earth for all. (And isn’t that what we all want?)

Rather than embracing this challenge as an opportunity to become a better, cleaner, more resilient and equitable Colorado, our state took the easy way out and took the road to nowhere. CO’s GHG Reduction Roadmap falls short of meeting statutory greenhouse gas reductions, offering suggestions but no real course for action.

The draft GHG Reduction Roadmap released September 30th laid out a broad slate of potential policies and near-term actions (over the next two years) that pave the way to meeting the 2025, 2030, and 2050 GHG emission reduction goals mandated by HB 19-1261. The Roadmap team, which was led by the non-regulatory Colorado Energy Office and involved other state departments and a third-party environmental consultant (E3), determined that deep emission cuts are needed across all sectors but especially from the four sectors responsible for the vast majority of Colorado’s emissions: transportation, electricity generation, oil and gas production, and buildings. 

So, here are the current targets laid out in the Roadmap as proposed by the Governor’s Energy Office:


  • 100% electric cars, zero-emission trucks, and buses by 2050
  • Adopt lower carbon fuels for aviation and certain heavy trucks
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled 
    • Expanding public transit (including front range rail development)
    • Transportation demand management (including telecommuting)
    • Wise land use planning (including reducing distance from housing to jobs)

Electricity Generation

  • 80% pollution reduction by 2030
  • Zero-carbon electricity by Xcel Energy and Tri-State by 2050 
  • Incentivize deeper emissions reductions and zero-carbon generation 

Oil and Gas Production

  • Reduce methane emissions 33% by 2025 and 50% by 2030


  • Decarbonize buildings through energy efficiency and electrification
  • Transition to low carbon fuels
  • Set carbon reduction and leak reduction targets
  • Support adoption of advanced building codes

Other Sectors: Waste, Industry, Agriculture, Natural & Working Lands

  • Reduce methane emissions from coal mines, landfills, sewage treatment plants, agriculture, and other sources 
  • Reduce industrial emissions through efficiency, electrification, & carbon capture
  • Action on HFCs (refrigerants, aerosols, etc.)
  • Reduce pollution, protect, and enhance carbon sequestration on natural and working lands
  • Improve soil function and carbon sequestration through regenerative farming

Colorado is on the right track, we just got off 82 exits too soon!

We recognize the progress that Colorado has made in reducing GHG emissions,  combating climate change, and confronting environmental injustice. The Roadmap is a testament to this commitment. 

However, to achieve the goals of HB 19-1261, more specific policies and enforcement will be needed. The Roadmap is not ambitious enough, it is not specific enough, and it does not demand action quickly enough. It will not get us to our first destination (26% GHG reductions by 2025, required by law and now long overdue) and at this trajectory, we’ll be out of gas to make to it our final destination (80% reduction by 2050 as required by law or 100% reduction by 2050 as required by our planet).  None of the proposed policies or actions reduce the pollution people are suffering from now or specifically center equity, environmental justice, or climate justice.

Industry leader billionaires are still behind the wheel, rather than climate scientists. The proposed plan in the Roadmap does not align with the IPCC’s goal of staying below 1.5℃ which demands net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2036

The Roadmap ignores the reality that staying below 1.5 degrees requires us to stop bringing on new fossil fuel development as quickly as possible. We need to drawdown emissions, not add more fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere. This means an end to construction of gas-powered buildings especially when electric/gas-free building construction is cost-comparable (not included in Roadmap). This also means transitioning to renewable energies (98-99% renewable by 2030 is the most cost-effective path) such as wind, geothermal, and especially solar which is affordable, quick to install, and fully compatible with our existing energy systems (also not included in Roadmap).  We need a complete and rapid phase out of fossil fuels within the next ten years and a platform for a clean and just transition for workers in the energy sector and frontline communities (again, how are these not included in the Roadmap?). These are essential to a legitimate GHG reduction plan.

 We are out of time to make these reductions and we cannot fall asleep at the wheel.

Many organizations, including 350 Colorado, have called out Governor Polis and the Colorado Energy Office for drafting a plan without clear, quantifiable, enforceable limits or regulatory policies.  Your voice is needed too!

With no clear direction on how to implement, monitor, or enforce these goals, the Roadmap is at best an aspirational document. A real Roadmap would show us how to get where we need to go. A real Roadmap would show us which entities are being regulated, what pollutants are being regulated and to what degree, how third party monitoring of emissions will be conducted, and how polluters who violate the proposed rules will be meaningfully penalized so that we actually have a fighting change of staying below 1.5 ℃.  If this is a roadmap, the car is missing.

I think we need some good news right now. So, take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out.

I’ve heard somewhere that the story of the road is about those who travel it. And just like a winding road up a mountain pass, every turn offers a new vista and a new perspective.

Colorado wants your input. They want to craft rules and regulations that are meaningful, ambitious, equitable, science-backed, and that will contribute to a cleaner, greener earth for generations to come.

Here’s how you can help:

Make your voice heard by submitting a written comment on the Roadmap, due November 1 by 5 pm MST.

Share this newsletter with family, friends, and colleagues so they have the opportunity to submit comments on the Roadmap.

Engage in nonviolent direct action (NVDA) to make your voice heard and take back the wheel.

Build the movement! Help us keep fossil fuels in the ground by joining a 350 Colorado committee or ongoing campaign.

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, help us hold Governor Polis and the AQCC accountable to reducing emissions at the rate needed to combat the climate crisis by making a donation. Click here to donate!