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Activists call on Polis to declare climate emergency in wake of deadly Marshall Fire

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January 12, 2022, 10:26 am
Last month’s deadly Marshall Fire near Boulder (Boulder PD photo).

In the wake of the most devastating wildfire in Colorado’s history, a coalition of climate groups is organizing a “State of the Climate” rally Thursday on the West Steps of the Capitol to call for immediate action on climate change from Governor Jared Polis (D-CO).

Gov. Jared Polis
Gov. Jared Polis

The United for Colorado’s Climate coalition, which includes over 40 organizations such as 350 Colorado, the Green House Connection Center, and Clean Energy Action, will assemble for the rally at 11 a.m. and begin the program immediately after Polis concludes his State of the State address.

At the rally, activists will demand that Polis declare a climate emergency in Colorado on the grounds of declining water resources, severe drought conditions, and massive wildfires that have gripped the state in recent years. Their other demands for Polis include eliminating fossil fuel production in Colorado by 2030 and decarbonizing major industries in Colorado as quickly as possible.

Climate activists say that urgent action is needed now to reverse the current crisis.

Harmony Cummings, founder of the Green House Connection Center, said, “We only have a short window remaining before our climate and planet are irreversibly damaged.”

Additionally, the coalition seeks an acknowledgment from the governor that communities of color have been disproportionately affected by climate change, as well as a commitment to restore justice to these marginalized groups.

The rally comes exactly two weeks after the Marshall fire destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of residents in Louisville, Superior, and unincorporated Boulder County. The rare winter blaze is a sobering reminder of how dire Colorado’s climate situation has become.

Currently, the UNL Drought Monitor shows that over 95% of Colorado is under moderate to extreme drought conditions. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, global warming speeds up the drying of organic matter and increases the risk of fires. Fires also spread more rapidly and are more difficult to contain in the warm, dry conditions driven by climate change.

In addition to wildfires, the state faces problematic levels of pollution from fracking and other industries.

“We needn’t look to far-off places or deep into the future to see how our inaction on climate and environmental degradation leads to suffering,” said Brent Goodlet, a climate justice advocate with 350 Colorado. “Go to Erie, Greeley, or Weld County where frontline communities in close proximity to fracking wells suffer from toxic air and water pollution.”

More details can be found on the event Facebook page.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder.

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Amber Carlson

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