City and County of Denver, Colorado Climate Adaptation Plan

The City and County of Denver’s Climate Adaptation Plan was released in 2014 to accompany the 2007 Climate Action Plan. Working in concert, the objectives of the adaptation plan are to prepare, mitigate, and plan for risks associated with climate impacts to Denver, specifically: an increase in temperature and urban heat island effect; an increase in frequency of extreme weather events; reduced snowpack and earlier snowmelt.   

Short, medium, and long-term adaptation strategies are given and are categorized by sectors throughout the plan. The sectors refer to broad planning areas that will be affected by climate change impacts in the region, including: buildings and energy, health and human services, land use and transportation, urban natural resources, water consumption, and food and agriculture.

The report also provides extensive background information and projections of climate impacts, as well as the results of a localized vulnerability assessment. Chapter 1 is an introduction to climate change and includes discussion of observed and expected climate trends in Colorado, the Front Range, and Denver. Chapter 2 identifies the agencies that have been involved in Denver’s climate change adaptation planning, and highlights adaptation activities the agencies were already involved with prior to the writing of this plan.

The major vulnerabilities Denver will likely encounter due to climate change are discussed in Chapter 3. To conduct the assessment, the Denver Department of Environmental Health convened a climate adaptation working group consisting of City agency and department representatives. The working group reviewed existing efforts at assessing climate impacts in the area, peer-reviewed literature, and individual expertise to discern the most critical climate change impacts. 

City agencies and partners were then asked to assess their vulnerabilities based on the three selected climate change impacts to Denver (increase in temperature and urban heat island effect, increase in extreme weather events, and reduced snowpack and earlier snowmelt). Once vulnerabilities by agency were established, the ones determined to be most pressing were grouped by sector in order for the City to develop and prioritize short, medium, and long-term climate adaptation strategies.

Agency staff identified short-term adaptation activities they felt could be implemented within one or two years, and the strategies were incorporated into Denver’s Environmental Management System (EMS). EMS is a tool used to incorporate environmental considerations into the City’s day-to-day operations. With EMS, climate adaptation strategies are integrated within agency’s existing goals, processes, and plans, and are analyzed annually.

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Related Organizations:

  • City of Denver, Colorado
  • Denver County
  • Denver Department of Environmental Health

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  • Adaptation plan

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