Pathway to climate action in NoCo — SBARs, local leaders, glass, and sustainability

By Susan Campbell, CO CCL State Co-coordinator

While CCL’s climate advocacy focuses heavily on national action, several Colorado chapters have taken a pathway to local support for national climate legislation by focusing first on local issues and needs.

In Greeley, for example, since the onset of the pandemic, CCL’s chapter has grown remarkably and found significant traction in building relationships with local elected officials and government staff and other climate organizations through working on local problems. Led by Mike Weiland, the chapter has identified several areas where there is a need for local advocacy, including sustainability planning and recycling.

On sustainability, their approach has included meeting with local decision-makers to introduce themselves, and CCL, and to explain the benefits of having a sustainability board or officer. They have met with Greeley city council members and staff, including the city manager, to ask for a sustainability advisory board that will advise the city council. They have met with city managers for Johnstown and Evans and with Weld County commissioners, requesting approval of sustainability boards. Further, they helped a local student group, Earth Guardians, request appointment of a sustainability officer at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).

The chapter has developed an effective tool for summarizing their request for sustainability structure, a short 1-3 page document called an SBAR, taken from the health care field. SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. This can be brought to meetings or sent electronically. Also, they have expanded their discussions with local leaders to talk about related ideas, like developing a county climate action plan, building recycling centers and more EV charging stations, and most recently utilizing Inflation Reduction Act benefits.

Although still working to secure approval of local government sustainability boards, the Greeley chapter has achieved positive relationships with multiple city council members, county commissioners and city managers, and respect for CCL members as engaged, well-informed citizens who work for their communities and can be a resource for local officials. They’ve also achieved tangible successes. These include creation of four glass recycling centers in Greeley bringing together the City and a local bottler in a program that recycles glass into usable products and produces revenue for the City. And, as a result of CCL’s efforts with Earth Guardians, UNC has appointed its first Sustainability Officer.

In addition, during the 2022 general election primaries, they raised climate as an issue in meetings with half of the candidates running for Congress in the new 8th Congressional District. Now, along with Mike Weiland serving as the CCL liaison for Representative Yadira Caraveo’s office, the chapter hopes to be involved in lobbying and other climate advocacy at the federal level. Thanks to Greeley chapter members for their insight, creativity and dedication!