As one of the smallest cities in this year’s finalists, Fort Collins demonstrates how a community can transition to a clean, sustainable and resilient energy future and improve health and safety while also maintaining reliability and affordability. Community engagement is a core value in Fort Collins, and the City has developed a Climate Action Plan Community Advisory Community that meets quarterly to address citizen concerns. Fort Collins is particularly vulnerable to flooding and the impacts from wildfires and drought.
The initiative has established short-, medium-, and long-term emissions reduction goals, aiming for a 20% reduction below 2005 levels by 2020, 80% by 2030, and complete carbon neutrality by 2050. The City has already made impressive headway, reducing per capita emissions by 28% in 2016 compared to 2005 levels and increasing the amount of local solar by three and a half times since 2013. As of 2014, water consumption, measured per person per day, has declined by almost 28% since 2001. The City has already diverted almost 60% of its waste from the landfill. Each of these efforts adds up to the City being more than halfway to its 2020 goal!
Fort Collins has made considerable efforts to be inclusive by engaging local organizations and individuals. In the spirit of collaboration and transparency, the City has developed a community dashboard that tracks the plan’s goals and accomplishments. At the City level, the initiative has created more than seven new positions, hired a Climate Economy Advisor within the Office of Economic Health, enlisted 70 staff and 30 citizens in multidisciplinary teams and incorporated climate action into the City’s 2016 Strategic Plan. By prioritizing sustainability within a range of departments, the initiative engages a wider audience and strengthens a network of people capable of mobilizing for climate action.
The efficiency programs associated with the City’s municipal-owned utility have already saved the equivalent energy use of 3,750 homes in Fort Collins, generating $38 million in local economic benefits in the form of reduced utility bills, rebates, and leveraged investment. In this sense, the Climate Action Plan serves to greatly strengthen the local economy while simultaneously making dramatic cuts to localized emissions in the long term. Fort Collins is an innovator in the realm of medium-sized cities with moderate politics and the successes of the plan should be understood as quite impressive for a city its size. Given the efficacy of the plan thus far and the City's dedication to future climate action, Fort Collins' success will continue to demonstrate that medium- and smaller-sized cities can make an impact. The Climate Action Plan is a unique compilation of best practices that can be more easily scaled up or down as necessary.