FCSG Statement on 2018 Fort Collins Climate Action Plan Results

Posted on August 26, 2019

When Fort Collins City staff members claim that the City’s 2018 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 14% below 2005 levels (1), they should include a big asterisk at the end of their sentence. That’s because the City ignores emissions of industrial greenhouse gases, such as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). One company located in Fort Collins – Broadcom (formerly Avago Technologies) - emits huge quantities of SF6. Astoundingly, Broadcom’s SF6 emissions make it the largest single GHG emitter in the City (2).

Since industrial GHG emissions are generally much less significant than carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions, it is often acceptable to ignore them when counting greenhouse gases. For instance, according to the latest GHG Inventory for the State of Colorado, SF6, HFCs, and PFCs are expected to make up less than 1% of statewide equivalent CO2 emissions in 2020 (3). However, the industrial GHG fraction is much larger for Fort Collins. In fact, Broadcom’s uncounted SF6 emissions in 2017 (the last year for which these data are available) were equivalent to about 10% of ALL GHG emissions from Fort Collins that year.

If Broadcom’s emissions were counted, then the City’s 2018 greenhouse gas emissions would be only about 3% lower than 2005 levels – not 14% lower as claimed by staff. This actual result does not stack up well in comparison either to our peer cities in Colorado or to the United States as whole.

The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has been raising this issue with City staff and Councilmembers for over a year now (4). Continuing to ignore Broadcom’s SF6 emissions is a stain on the City’s otherwise laudable efforts to account for and reduce community-wide GHG emissions. We need to start counting industrial GHGs, and we need to start working with industrial gas emitters to reduce their output of these climate-wrecking chemicals.

There is a potential upside to following the course of action that FCSG is recommending. The industrial GHG emissions from Avago Technologies and other firms are not included in the City’s 2005 baseline, and should of course be added in to that baseline if they are to be added into the inventory for other years as we suggest. If the City can work with Broadcom and others to reduce their SF6, HFC, and PFC emissions to LESS than their 2005 values by the end of next year, this will help us achieve our community GHG emissions goal of 20% reductions compared to 2005 levels. We urge the City to do everything it can to both track and reduce the emission of industrial greenhouse gases.

Footnotes

(1) MEMORANDUM FROM LINDSAY EX, JOHN PHELAN, MOLLY SAYLOR, MICHAEL AUTHIER RE: CLIMATE ACTION PLAN - 2018 RESULTS dated 8/20/19, available at https://citydocs.fcgov.com/dn=CITY+CLERK&vid=218&dt=MAIL+PACKET&cmd=showdt

(2) EPA 2017 Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Large Facilities.for Larimer County, available at https://ghgdata.epa.gov/ghgp/main.do#/facility/?q=Find%20a%20Facility%20...

(3) Draft Colorado Greenhouse Gas Inventory Including Projections to 2020 and 2030, available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1120LdxmecGTuf7uil9l6YmjOQonYOnxV/view

(4) See “FCSG Statement on CAP and Local Solar Goals” dated 5/8/18, available at http://fcsg.fccan.org/sites/fcsg.fccan.org/files/FCSG Statement on CAP and Local Solar Goals 050818.pdf