Climate Change Goals & Actions: Adaptation


CC Goals - Adaptation

farm trucks harvesting beets

What is Adaptation?

Along with working hard to avoid the harshest impacts of climate change by cutting climate-harming emissions through mitigation efforts, Colorado must also address changes that are already occurring and prepare for potential impacts in the future. This is called adaptation.  

Explore Colorado's Three Climate Pillars: Mitigation - Adaptation - Equitable Transition

What is Resilience?

The ability of communities to rebound, positively adapt to, or thrive amidst changing conditions or challenges — including human-caused and natural disasters — and to maintain quality of life, healthy growth, durable systems, economic vitality, and conservation of resources for present and future generations.  

Learn more from the Colorado Resiliency Framework

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Adaptation Goals

Adaptable communities are resilient communities. The State of Colorado is developing and implementing adaptation strategies to reduce risks and build a better future. It will take everyone working together to respond to changing conditions, protect each other and rebound better than before.

Collaboration, community building, connection across sectors, and consideration of future conditions and challenges will be key. In addition to building resilient communities, Colorado is working on climate adaptation for nature and wildlife, water resources, economic sectors, and the health of all Coloradans.

Risk and Vulnerability

The Colorado Climate Center serves as the state climatologist and provides valuable climate risk information and up to date analyses. In addition the state has a number of resources aimed at evaluating risk and vulnerability including the Future Avoided Cost Explorer (FACE) Tool, and the Colorado Enviroscreen tool.

The Colorado Resiliency Framework provides a roadmap of 27 strategies for building resilience and adapting to our changing conditions.

State departments and agencies are integrating adaptation into operations and investments, and supporting local governments in developing adaptation strategies that build resilience today instead of waiting for tomorrow. An example includes the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Policy Directive 1905.0: “Building Resilience into Transportation Infrastructure and Operations.”

Community Resources

Is your community prepared for natural hazards and major disruptions?

These resources can help your community adapt and thrive into the future:

Is your community recovering from a disruption? The post-disaster recovery toolkit includes six steps to be taken by local governments after a small or large disaster event. The Colorado Resiliency Office, Colorado Energy Office, and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment developed the Climate Change Webinar Series to equip local governments in Colorado with the tools, resources, and knowledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more resilient future.


Colorado’s Adaptation Goals & Actions

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Colorado is planning and implementing climate change adaptation strategies, policies, and funding initiatives that reduce future risks, vulnerabilities, and losses. In the wake of the Marshall Fire and the record-breaking 2020 wildfire season, the Polis administration has taken a variety of steps to underscore the state’s commitment to recover from climate-influenced disasters and rapidly lower climate change-causing greenhouse gases, as well as to elevate the state’s prevention, preparedness and adaptation efforts. To this end, SB22-206 established a number of adaptation and recovery programs, funding streams, and policies including the development of the Governor’s Office of Climate Preparedness and Disaster Recovery. This office will serve to elevate the state’s climate adaptation, preparedness, and recovery work and needs within the Governor’s Office. It will also support greater collaboration across state governments in carrying out a focused and proactive approach to climate adaptation. The Colorado Resiliency Framework provides a roadmap of 27 strategies for adapting to our changing environmental, social, and economic conditions in the context of a changing climate. Colorado is currently taking climate adaptation action in several key areas to ensure a proactive approach to a changing climate.


Ranks seventh in the nation for renewable energy storage capacity — 5,868 megawatts (MW) = Power for 2.15 million homes.

Ranks ninth in the nation (third in the Mountain West) in water-saving laws and policies, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency.


Key Priorities

Climate change will impact Colorado’s vulnerable people and communities the most. Colorado is taking an equity approach to reduce health and social impacts. For example: A warming climate will worsen air quality, including ground-level ozone, which can aggravate lung diseases and even lead to premature death.

Actions taken through the Greenhouse Gas Roadmap will help reduce air pollution, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and health-related issues. Extreme heat days will increase, putting people and communities especially vulnerable populations at increased health risk. The Heat and Health website provides information, data, tools, and resources related to extreme heat risks. 

In addition, the Colorado Enviroscreen tool helps to evaluate health risk and vulnerability.

Planning and land use intersect with community, transportation, and development — sectors that are critical to both climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The following resources are available to communities, local governments, and partners to ensure climate-informed planning and development:

  • The Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions for Colorado guide provides detailed, Colorado-specific information about how to assess a community’s hazard risk level and how to implement numerous land use planning tools and strategies for reducing risk.
  • The Colorado Resiliency Office provides tools such as the Resilience Toolkit, a Post-Disaster Recovery Toolkit, and a Climate Change Webinar Series to help communities prepare and adapt to impacts from climate change and other events.
  • Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMPs) contain a whole community assessment of natural hazard risks and, more importantly, a mitigation strategy to reduce those long-term risks. These strategies and actions may address climate change adaptation measures.
  • Model Land Use Codes are being developed by the Department of Local Affairs for municipalities and counties. These codes will help guide communities in planning for more sustainable development and promote affordable housing development.  

Extreme weather events and wildfires that are fueled by climate change threaten infrastructure systems vital to Colorado’s economy. How and where we build can reduce risks and vulnerabilities to people and the built environment.

While climate change mitigation involves reducing greenhouse gases, a key strategy in climate adaptation is to ensure energy reliability and resiliency both during and after extreme weather events. The State is undertaking an Energy Resiliency & Reliability Roadmap to prioritize grid resiliency strategies while also offering grant programs to electric utilities such as Microgrids for Community Resilience and other electric grid resilience funds.

The Colorado Department of Transportation Resilience Program considers and invests in the resilience of the assets themselves (e.g., the design and maintenance of bridges to withstand rare, yet catastrophic flood events), or adaptability of CDOT’s operations, maintenance, and planning in the face of stressors or challenges. The Disaster Resilient Rebuilding Program was established to support local recovery efforts after state-declared disasters. Due to the large amount of housing damages, these funds have been earmarked for the Housing Recovery Program to assist in the climate-conscious reconstruction of homes lost or damaged in state-declared disasters, including the devastating 2021 Marshall Fire.  

Changing precipitation patterns, drought, increased intensity of rainfall events, and storms are major elements of a changing climate. These changes impact our natural environment, the productivity of Colorado farmland, and harm sensitive environments that are iconic to Colorado’s identity and recreation.

Colorado Wildfire Risk Public Viewer is designed to increase wildfire awareness, provide a comprehensive view of wildfire risk and local fire history, and educate homeowners and community leaders about wildfire prevention and mitigation resources available from the Colorado State Forest Service. Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Colorado Governor’s Office are developing Colorado’s Outdoors Strategy, a regionally rooted, statewide vision and action plan for habitat conservation, recreation, and climate resilience. The effort will integrate existing plans and local efforts, including those by Colorado’s Outdoor Regional Partnerships, as well as identify funding mechanisms to ensure action and outcomes.

The Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) is one of several state programs funding wildfire risk reduction, in addition to programs at the Colorado State Forest Service. Grants and local government funding help communities in the wildland-urban interface prepare for wildfires by strategically thinning flammable vegetation, purchasing forestry equipment, and growing our wildfire mitigation workforce.

The Colorado Water Plan is an updated Resilient Planning Action Area that creates water security roadmaps to help Colorado adapt to uncertainties in water supply. The Water Plan also guides a broad range of partner and agency actions including: protecting storage infrastructure from effects of wildfire, flooding, and debris flow; conducting integrated planning that considers uncertainty and drought; providing conservation-oriented outreach and education; advancing our scientific understanding and updating decision support tools; and convening workshops on water and climate vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA)’s new Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience Office supports farmers and ranchers in adapting to Colorado’s changing climate by connecting producers to technical and financial assistance, supporting CDA’s soil and energy programs, and ensuring agriculture is represented in state and federal policy. Colorado’s Soil Health Initiative Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources (STAR) supports farmers and ranchers in implementing healthy soil practices. Healthy soil is a key component to support farm resilience by improving water retention and water quality, reducing erosion, and improving farm yields. Healthy soil will help farms weather more extreme climate events such as drought and flood. 

Colorado’s economy is threatened by a changing climate. For example, the recreation and tourism that Colorado is known for will be impacted by altered duration and timing of seasonal events due to climate change (e.g., snowfall and snowmelt will impact winter sports and fishing for cold-water fish). Also, as Colorado transitions away from coal to protect public health and mitigate climate change, the new energy opportunities may result in the loss of stable, high-paying jobs and economic opportunities in communities where coal is mined and burned to fuel the economy.

The Future Avoided Cost Explorer: Colorado Hazards analyzes the economic impacts of flooding, wildfire, and drought while also modeling future economic impacts to Colorado’s agriculture, infrastructure, recreation, and suppression.

The Office of Just Transition was established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2019 in order to support Colorado’s workforce that will be most impacted by the coal energy transition.

Within the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Colorado Tourism Office works with communities across the state to adapt to changes in our world-class outdoor tourism economy in the face of such climate impacts as drought and wildfire.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government provides grants and other financial assistance to support local governments’ critical infrastructure, economic recovery, and resiliency strategies.