Aspen, CO Adopts the Canary Initiative

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Aspen, CO, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 3/16/05

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WHEREAS, the City Council recognizes that the City of Aspen is a world renowned destination resort community; and

WHEREAS, the City of Aspen’s economy is dependent upon tourism and a healthy mountain community life style; and

WHEREAS, the world's leading climate scientists have documented a clear global warming trend and the unmistakable impact of human activities on that trend; and

WHEREAS, global warming of the magnitude now predicted by the scientific community may cause extremely costly disruption of human and natural systems throughout the world, including Aspen and other similar mountain communities; and

WHEREAS, climate change could be the most critical current threat to Aspen’s way of life, health, and economy; and

WHEREAS, local actions can help to pave the way for national and international leadership; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has determined that addressing the potentially adverse affects of global warming upon the health and economic well-being of its citizens and guests is, and should be, of the highest priority for the City of Aspen; and

WHEREAS, the City Council desires to continue investing in renewable energy sources so as to ensure a continuing supply of economic and sustainable energy sources for its internal operations and its citizens; and

WHEREAS, many of the critical components of a local action plan for climate protection are already in place or under development in the City of Aspen, including, but not limited to, the following initiatives:

  • Adoption of the world’s first Renewable Energy Mitigation Program in 2000 which has raised more that $3.0 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy in four years;
  • Providing 57% of municipal utility’s electricity from renewable sources;
  • Adoption of the Building America Program for affordable housing projects funded by the City of Aspen;
  • Adoption of the Efficient Building Points Program for all residential building permits;
  • Adoption of higher efficient building thresholds for all employee housing projects funded by the City of Aspen;
  • Adoption of the Aspen Energy Code in 1995;
  • Adoption of the Ecological Bill of Rights by the City Council which establishes the right to clean air and water, protects wilderness and open space, access to public lands, efficient use of energy and resources, protection from exposure to health hazards, freedom from excessive noise and consistent enforcement of environmental regulations;
  • Implementation of a City chemical management plan to reduce use and disposal of hazardous chemicals;
  • Enactment of a sales tax for the acquisition and protection of open space;
  • Enforcement of Land Use Code regulations that require developments to offset their impacts on water, air, open space, transportation;
  • Support of national forest plans that protect roadless areas and prevent destructive development;
  • Implementation of various programs and initiatives including, City building recycling of office paper, glass, plastic, batteries, newspaper, and cardboard; purchase of recycled content office paper; City recycling of hundreds of tons of asphalt per year; computer recycling provided for all city residents; composting or chipping of all branches, grass and leaves, use of organic fertilizers, integrated pest management; collection of scrap metal to be given to sheet metal company instead of taken to the landfill; the formation of a “Green Team” by City employees that does a number of environmental projects throughout the City;
  • Operation of the second-largest taxpayer-funded mass transit system in Colorado;
  • Operation of City transit programs including free local service, cross-town shuttles;
  • Implementation of a modern paid-parking program to discourage vehicle use within the City downtown area;
  • Creation of a car sharing program;
  • Retrofitting mechanical and lighting systems in public buildings;
  • Adoption and enforcement of woodstoves and fireplaces regulations to ensure only certified clean-burning devices and a limitation on numbers of fireplaces and woodstoves;
  • Implementation of an aggressive street-sweeping program with minimal use of street sand;
  • Adoption and implementation of an innovative air quality State Implementation Plan with control measures focused on trip reductions;
  • Maintenance of over a dozen miles of biking and walking trails that get people to work without a car (some of these trails are plowed in the winter to allow winter commuting);
  • Investment in hydroelectric plants at Ruedi Reservoir and Castle Creek which now produce the cheapest electricity source for the City of Aspen;
  • The purchase and use of alternative fuel vehicles and free bicycles for use by City employees;
  • Water monitoring programs to assess impacts of deicers and other chemicals on local streams;
  • Discontinuation of use of magnesium chloride for snow melting to preserve water quality and protect public health;
  • Continuing commitment to maintain minimum stream flows in area rivers;
  • Maintenance of an Audubon certified municipal golf course;
  • Restoration and creation of new wetlands;
  • Construction of a raw water system for irrigation;
  • Joining with other public and private organizations as a partner of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, in support of its coordinated efforts to spread the word about what climate change can mean to the Rocky Mountain region and what can be done about it;
  • Adoption of water and electric rates that encourage conservation; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has determined that more should be done to address the potential risks associated with the phenomenon of global warming, including, but not necessarily limited to, greenhouse gas reduction activities, energy security and cost reduction; affordable housing; mobility and, transportation choices; solid waste reduction and recycling; reliable, affordable water supply; urban and rural forest protection; sustainable economic development; and, clean air.


Section One.
The City Council of the City of Aspen hereby approves that certain proposal entitled “The Canary Initiative” and calls upon Pitkin County, the Town of Snowmass Village, other similarly situated mountain resort communities, other non-profit organizations in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, citizens throughout the Aspen area, the State of Colorado and the United States Government to assist in the most appropriate manner for the establishment of the Aspen Global Warming Alliance.

Section Two.
The City Manager is hereby directed to:

1. Join, together with the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Skiing Company, the Aspen Global Change Institute, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, in the creation of the Aspen Global Warming Alliance. The members of the Alliance should be free to establish their own goals and objectives, but should initially attempt to guide the City of Aspen in the implementation of the Canary Initiative.

2. Continue to work cooperatively with other governmental entities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley to encourage them to join the Aspen Global Warming Alliance for their mutual benefit and support.

3. Establish cooperative relationships with other municipalities in Colorado and the United States that have greenhouse gas reduction plans under the auspices of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (e.g. Ft. Collins, Boulder and Denver); and encourage other ski resort and mountain communities to join in similar efforts.

4. Negotiate and present to City Council for its consideration a membership agreement with the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary, legally binding pilot greenhouse trading program for emission sources and offset projects in North America.

5. Prepare and submit to Council for its consideration a professional services contract to perform a comprehensive integrated scientific assessment specific to the Aspen area on the likely consequences to Aspen of global warming over the course of the 21st century.

6. Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventory for the City of Aspen that quantifies GHG emissions and is capable of tracking progress or lack of progress quantitatively in reducing emissions for all sectors of the Aspen economy. Said emission inventory shall be of sufficient quality, at a minimum, to qualify for consideration by the Chicago Climate Exchange membership and participation.

7. Establish, with the assistance of the Aspen Global Warming Alliance, periodic GHG reduction goals for the City of Aspen, and various sectors of the community.

8. Negotiate and present to City Council for its consideration a contract with the Municipal Energy Authority of Nebraska (MEAN) or other entity to increase the City’s current purchases of wind power so that wind energy provides an additional 10% of municipal utility’s supply by the end of 2005. Said contract shall not exceed a continuing annual cost of $388,800.00.

9. Negotiate and present to City Council for its consideration during the 2006 budget process a contract with the Municipal Energy Authority of Nebraska (MEAN) or other entity to increase the City’s current purchases of wind power by an additional 16.5% by the end of 2006. Said contract shall not exceed a continuing additional annual cost of $240,200.00.

10. Prepare and present to City Council a construction contract for the expansion of the City’s renewable energy source by constructing a new hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek. Said contract shall be for a sum between $250,000 to $500,000.00 and shall be included in the City’s 2006 budget.

11. Prepare and present to City Council a business plan for the acquisition of additional water rights in the Roaring Fork drainage to protect instream flows.

12. Prepare and present for City Council consideration, a plan to reduce GHG emissions from transportation and vehicular traffic in Aspen.

13. Prepare appropriate legislation for City Council consideration that would reduce energy consumption in multi-family and commercial buildings in the City of Aspen.

14. Establish a comprehensive, aggressive and sustained public awareness campaign on global warming for the Aspen area that is readily capable of duplication for other regions of the state or country. The public awareness campaign shall, at a minimum, include the publication and distribution of educational materials explaining the reason for the City’s adoption of the Canary Initiative, an objective explanation of the global warming phenomenon, and an objective recitation of the potential threat of climate change to the Aspen economy and way of life.

15. Coordinate with the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Global Change Institute the design and presentation of a major international conference on global warming for 2006; and, prepare and present to City Council for its consideration a line item in the 2006 budget an amount not to exceed $50,000.00 for financial support of said conference. The conference shall be designed to ensure maximum community participation in all of its workshops, presentations, symposiums, and reports. The Aspen Global Warming Alliance shall be asked to assist in the design of the conference.

16. Prepare and submit to the City Council a supplemental budget request for the 2005 budget, not to exceed $110,000.00 on an annual basis, to forthwith employ a new City employee within the City’s Environmental Health Department. Said employee shall assist, direct and coordinate all City activities as set forth in the Canary Initiative and this resolution including, but not limited to, coordinating the activities of the Aspen Global Warming Alliance.