Earlier today, to celebrate the beginning of Climate Week, climate advocates and state legislators stated the need for environmental justice and climate legislation in Colorado.
Accompanying them on the west steps of the state Capitol was an ice sculpture of the planet weighing more than two tons. The sculpture was meant to be a symbol of how a changing climate will devastate the planet–a melting sculpture to mirror our melting world.
The weather in Colorado had other plans and the press conference was held through light April snowfall and frigid temperatures. So, the sculpture became a metaphor not for global warming, but instead for another one of climate change’s repercussions: the large-scale shifts in weather patterns happening worldwide.
Ean Thomas-Tafoya, a climate activist and co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, said the weather does not take away from the event’s goal.
“We’re here celebrating Earth Day and the planet, but it is a cold day. We were hoping for the optics of that melting,” Thomas-Tafoya said, laughing and gesturing to the ice sculpture. “We do want to acknowledge that weather is not the same as climate. Science has told us that there is no doubt we are heading in the wrong direction when it comes to climate change.”
Once the weather gets warm again, ProgressNow Colorado will be hosting a live stream showing the ice sculpture melting on their website. The creator of the sculpture, Jess Parrish, is an award-winning ice sculptor based in Colorado.
State Sen. Faith Winter (D-Westminster) is the sponsor of a senate bill that sets clear checkpoints to ensure the goals set by Governor Jared Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Roadmap. Some of the goals set by Polis in his roadmap include reducing emissions 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.
“We cannot wait to address climate change. We cannot wait to address environmental injustice. Yesterday was too late, we must act today with urgency,” Winter said at the press conference. “We cannot afford to not meet our climate goals. What our bill does is ensure that we are on track to meet those goals.”
A spokesperson for Polis told The Denver Post that Polis does not support setting emission caps on specific sectors like transportation, which is an aspect of Winter’s bill. In February, over 60 Colorado environmental groups and community leaders asked Polis to phase out oil and gas production completely by 2030 and to enforce stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
The event was hosted by ProgressNow Colorado, a progressive advocacy group, and Conservation Colorado, one of the state’s largest environmental organizations, both of which support the bill. Fawn Bolak, ProgressNow Colorado’s communications director, said that Colorado is running out of time to get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We’re proud to support Colorado lawmakers who are not just talking about the devastating effects of climate change, but are leading the charge to combat it, and doing so with environmental justice and racial equity front and center,” Bolak said. “We know the majority of Coloradans are eager to take action with the rest of the world to slash greenhouse gas emissions.”
The proposed emissions bill is supported by a slate of 50 Colorado environmental groups. In March, a group of Colorado-based snow-sport companies wrote a letter asking Polis to support this climate legislation.
Two other bills were discussed at the press conference, one of which would increase public protections for toxic air emissions and another that aims to redress the effects of environmental racism. State Rep. Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora) is a co-sponsor of the latter.
“Climate change and pollution hurts all of us, but it doesn’t hurt all of us evenly,” Jackson said at the press conference.
All three of the bills are being heard in legislative committees this week.