The second annual Climate Solutions Summit is taking place this week in Breckenridge, bringing together mountain towns from across the country to share strategies for addressing climate change in our unique economic and ecological environments.
The first summit was held in Park City in 2019 as part of the few initiatives launched by Mountain Towns 2030 (MT2030), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering mountain cities to achieve net zero carbon emissions at an accelerated rate. Park City was the first mountain city to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and MT2030 was launched to help spread its strategy and put more cities on track to achieve goals. similar.
Chris Steinkamp, founder of the non-profit organization Protect Our Winters, is now executive director of MT2030. He said many larger, wealthier cities — such as Park City and Vail — have been able to spend time and money developing effective plans to address climate change, but it’s a privilege that all of them communities do not have the resources to invest. This is where the Climate Solutions Summit comes in.
“We just realized there was so much work to do that we should share that work with other communities that don’t have the capacity to try to do it,” Steinkamp said. “With climate change really weighing on us, the window we have is getting tighter and tighter, so if we can start talking and sharing all of this data, it will move us forward much faster.”
The three-day summit features over 40 speakers sharing insights and delivering workshops focused on the specific demands and challenges of climate change in mountain communities. Topics range from creating litter- and plastic-free spaces to environmental restoration to sustainable resort practices, and also provide tips on lobbying for beneficial climate policies at the state and local level. national.
The urgency of the climate situation calls for immediate action, and Steinkamp said the summit is meant to serve more as a playbook than a think tank.
“I want to make sure everyone leaves this summit with a very focused set of tools to get the job done when they get home,” Steinkamp said. “We’re running about 16 workshops on very specific topics that could address some of the challenges that many of these communities face and answer some of their toughest questions.”
A number of Eagle County communities, including Vail and the City of Eagle, will be hosting sessions at the summit to share what has worked in our area.
At the 2019 Climate Solutions Summit, Vail Resorts partnered with Alterra Mountain Co., Boyne Resorts and POWDR to form the Mountain Collaborative for Climate Action, a group committed to leading the ski industry in advancing climate goals. Representatives from all four companies will present how they have delivered on this commitment over the past few years and set a framework for what lies ahead.
Representatives from the City of Eagle will present the creation of the Adam Palmer Sustainability Fundand how the city is working creatively to meet its 2030 goal of net zero emissions.
The pandemic’s impacts on climate action goals will also be a focus of discussion this week. Not only has the pandemic set back the ability to bring cities together for the summit by two years, it has dramatically changed the social and economic configuration of mountain towns across the country, which have since been inundated with new populations with the expansion. remote work.
“There was a goal that was set before the pandemic, then all of a sudden tons of people moved into the city, so we had to deal with a whole new vision of what transport and housing look like and how to deal with more people. and growth,” Steinkamp said. “It’s really forced all of us to figure out how we’re going to keep our focus on the goals that we’ve set for ourselves, but with a different playing field.”
Steinkamp said navigating this transformation is another unique attribute of mountain communities, and one that will be addressed more effectively if leaders collaborate and share what they have learned with each other.
The summit is aimed at all stakeholders of mountain communities, which includes the public who live, work and enjoy these environments. All access tickets are available online at MT2030.org for $400.
In addition to the regular summit sessions, there will be a public address on Wednesday evening entitled “Chasing Water” presented by National Geographic filmmaker and photographer Pete McBride. McBride will share his first-hand account of climate change-fueled drought and its impacts on the Colorado River Basin with stories and images from over a decade of coverage from the region. The keynote will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge and is open to the public for $20 for adults and free for students with ID.
The plan is to hold this summit on an annual basis and host it each year in a different mountain town. From coast to coast, MT2030 wants to put all mountain cities on sustainable paths and believes that the fastest way to find a solution is through regular and open collaboration.
“We want everyone to know that MT2030 is not a Utah or Colorado thing, that every mountain community matters,” Steinkamp said. “Mountain communities are affected by climate change in very similar ways, wherever you are, and we want to make sure we involve everyone.”
For more information or to purchase tickets for the summit and keynote event, visit MT2030.org.