Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

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May 10, 2023

Carbon Direct and Boulder County Publish Playbook for Local Government Climate Action

Report Outlines Best Practices for Swift, Impactful Action on Climate Change Through Carbon Dioxide Removal

Boulder County, CO — Boulder County, Colorado, in partnership with Carbon Direct and 4 Corners Carbon Coalition, today announced the release of a new playbook for local government leaders to drive climate action and innovation in their own communities. The report, titled “Best Practices Playbook for Local Carbon Removal and Resilience Strategies,” provides tactical guidance for governments, decision-makers, and facilitators to incorporate carbon dioxide removal (CDR) into local climate action plans.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that, even in the most optimistic greenhouse gas emissions reductions scenarios, carbon removal will need to scale to multiple gigatons per year by mid-century to meet climate targets. Moreover, assuming we achieve net zero emissions globally by mid-century, a safe and healthy climate will still require the ongoing removal of legacy emissions from the atmosphere at similar or greater scales through the end of the century.

The Best Practices report outlines a four-phase playbook for local governments to facilitate CDR programs within their communities that foster local innovation and prioritize resilience:

  • Assess community needs, priorities, and resources: Evaluate both internal and external resources and work closely with community members to ensure alignment and maximize equitable benefits.
  • Evaluate and design a carbon removal program: Develop or align with existing standards for applying best-in-class scientific and community impact metrics when assessing the quality and impact potential of projects. Major considerations outlined in the report include budget, feasibility, innovation, scalability, and team assessment capabilities.
  • Select and implement carbon removal projects: Use identified priorities and standards to evaluate project proposals. Ensure these programs have clear processes in place for tracking funded project implementation and communicating outcomes to local stakeholders.
  • Monitor, report, and verify outcomes: Establish metrics for ongoing project review. Deliver annual reports that enable local governments to qualitatively and quantitatively assess project activities and impact, and communicate outcomes and improvements to the community.

In addition to the Best Practices Playbook, Carbon Direct, Boulder County, and the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition have also released a companion piece, “Carbon Removal Strategies for Local Communities,” which explores the ways local governments can leverage carbon removal to reduce climate impacts and improve community resilience.

"To avoid catastrophic consequences and meet climate goals, carbon removal is crucial not only for corporations but also for local governments,” said Susie Strife, Director of Boulder County’s Office of Sustainability, Climate Action, & Resilience. “This playbook shares our own experiences with our Climate Innovation Fund, 4 Corners Carbon Coalition members' insights, and Carbon Direct's scientific expertise to help local leaders take meaningful action and overcome barriers."

"We created the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition to empower diverse communities to partner and accelerate innovative carbon removal projects based on local priorities and opportunities," said Ramón DC Alatorre, Inaugural Action Director of the Coalition. "With this playbook, we're sharing our experiences and providing an adaptable framework for other local governments to hit the ground running and build on their unique local context. Carbon removal is both necessary and emerging, and we're here to help communities take meaningful action!"

“The science is clear. To meet climate targets, carbon dioxide removal must be part of the equation,” said Sarah Federman, Director of Landscape Decarbonization at Carbon Direct. “Municipal leaders are uniquely positioned to accelerate carbon dioxide removal projects. They know the local community, they understand the growing impacts of that change on the community, and they have the mechanisms in place to effectively evaluate community needs and get community buy-in. Carbon Direct was proud to work with Boulder County and the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition in the development of this playbook.”

Get the playbook: Best Practices Playbook for Local Carbon Removal and Resilience Strategies

Get the companion report: Carbon Removal Strategies for Local Communities

Carbon Removal Playbook  and Companion Report

What is carbon dioxide removal?

Carbon dioxide removal describes processes that pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lock it away in geological, biological, and synthetic formations for decades, centuries, or even millennia. Carbon dioxide removal is necessary because carbon dioxide reduction alone will not address the climate crisis. According to the IPCC, cutting emissions from fossil fuels is necessary, but it’s no longer sufficient to stem the worst effects of climate change.

About Boulder County’s Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience

Boulder County residents are experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis in the form of high heat days, extreme weather, drought, poor air quality, and devastating wildfires. As a global leader in climate action, Boulder County is committed to the radical transformation needed to meet this challenge. Through programs and policies that foster innovation, coalition-building, and equitable outcomes, Boulder County is cutting emissions, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and supporting systemic change to fight the climate crisis.

In 2018, Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder filed a lawsuit against two oil companies that bear significant responsibility for climate change. The communities are demanding that Suncor and ExxonMobil pay their fair share of the costs associated with climate change impacts on local governments so that the costs do not fall disproportionately on taxpayers.

About Carbon Direct

Carbon Direct helps organizations go from climate goal to climate action. We combine technology with deep expertise in climate science, data, and policy to deliver carbon emission footprints, actionable reduction strategies, and high-quality carbon dioxide removal. With Carbon Direct, clients can set and equitably deliver on their climate commitments, streamline compliance, and manage risk through transparency and scientific credibility.

Our expertise is trusted by global climate leaders including Microsoft, American Express, and Alaska Airlines, as well as by the World Economic Forum, which selected Carbon Direct as an Implementation Partner for the First Movers Coalition. To learn more, visit

About 4 Corners Carbon Coalition

The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition is a first-of-its-kind partnership of local governments pooling resources to envision and accelerate community-based carbon dioxide removal project deployment and business development. The Coalition was started in the Four Corners region of the Western United States; as of May 2023, members include Boulder County, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, and Santa Fe, NM. Visit for more information about the Coalition and the status of ongoing and future campaigns.

Mission of the Office of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience

Our mission is to advance policies and programs that conserve resources, protect the environment, and safeguard our climate in order to build a sustainable, just, and resilient community.

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