Denver smog haze pollution brown cloud

Air pollution over Denver in an undated photo. 

Thanks to a partnership between the Denver City Council and Mayor Michael Hancock, the city will soon have its very own Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency to “proactively" address "with urgency" the effects of climate change.

“This is a huge step in the right direction, but our work here is not done,” said Councilman Jolon Clark, who sponsored the bill.

“We have a long way to go until we can say that we’re doing everything we need to do as a city to meet the science-based targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions,” he said.

The City Council on Monday night voted 11-0 in favor of the measure to create an office dedicated to combatting climate change.

The new office will fall under the Department of Public Health and Environment with staff reporting directly to the mayor.

As part of its powers, the office will oversee climate-related contracts and communications, as well as implement climate plans and energy efficiency programs. The office, which will be established by July 2020, will also have oversight of portions of the city’s “green” buildings and help improve building energy efficiency. 

Interviews for the new office’s executive director, who will be appointed by the mayor, have begun this month.

The city has been seeking up to two dozen people to work over six months on the climate action force, which will be “charged with creating consensus in the Denver community by May of 2020 around an updated climate work plan through an equity lens, securing the resources that will be needed, and creating revenue mechanisms,” according to Hancock’s office.

Climate action task force meetings begin next month and will be held weekly through February. From March through May, meetings will be biweekly.

Once established, the office will coordinate with other agencies to assist in “developing and transitioning” employees to implement low-carbon or zero-carbon solutions.

The bill to create the climate action office was created as a compromise between the city council and Hancock, who did not support the council’s carbon tax bill that would have required voter approval .

Hancock has allocated $40 million to combat climate change and support sustainability efforts in his 2020 budget, which was approved by the council earlier this month.

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