Portland has a climate marked by warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Climate helps define iconic characteristics of the Portland region, creating an ideal environment for growing roses, drinking coffee and watching Great Blue Herons. Portland’s climate is changing, however. Temperatures have increased over the past century, and regional precipitation has increased, especially in the spring. Carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use changes, including deforestation, are the primary drivers for the climate change we are experiencing today and expect to see in the future.
Portland’s climate future is projected to be characterized by hotter, drier summers with an increased frequency of high-heat days; and warmer, wetter winters. The draft Climate Change Preparation Strategy: Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment explores the potential impacts of climate change on various sectors, including human systems, natural systems, and infrastructure and the built environment. Potential impacts to food systems, climate migrants, energy systems and the economy are also explored.
The impacts to these systems may be substantial and serious. To prepare for climate change impacts we must reduce exposure to increasing risks and strengthen the capacity to respond. The draft Climate Change Preparation Strategy details specific 2030 objectives and near-term actions to build resilience into Portland and Multnomah County’s policies, operations, services and infrastructure.
In addition, successful climate change preparation requires steps to understand how climate change may affect people most vulnerable to projected impacts, particularly heat, poor air quality and flooding. Where possible, preparation actions should be prioritized in areas facing current and historical disparities that may be exacerbated by climate change impacts, including low-income populations and communities of color.
Addressing the primary cause of climate change, carbon emissions, remains a crucial component of climate change preparation work. The assessment and the strategy are fundamentally linked to the City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan, which integrates the City and County’s work to slow the effects of climate change while also preparing for the impacts that we will experience. Portland and Multnomah County are currently in the process of updating the Climate Action Plan, which was originally adopted in 2009. Visit Portland’s Climate Action website to learn more about the Climate Action Plan update project and other existing climate efforts.