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Local carbon emissions down 35 percent per person. City and County release draft 2015 Climate Action Plan proposing next steps.

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News from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

CONTACTS
Julia Thompson  |  503-823-0229  |  Julia.Thompson@portlandoregon.gov
Christine Llobregat  |  503-823-7007  |  Christine.Llobregat@portlandoregon.gov


Portland, ORE. — Today the City of Portland and Multnomah County released the draft 2015 Climate Action Plan for public comment. The draft plan provides a roadmap for the community to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2030.

In 1993, Portland was the first city in the United States to create a local action plan for cutting carbon. The 2015 draft plan builds on Portland’s 20+ year legacy of climate action with ambitious new policies, fresh research on consumption choices and engagement with community leaders serving low-income households and communities of color to help ensure that all Portlanders benefit from the City and County’s climate action efforts.

“I have spoken to city leaders around the world who are amazed that Portland has had a Climate Action Plan since 2009,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “Many other cities are just now contemplating such a plan. As we look at the 2015 draft, two things come to mind: How incredibly far we’ve come. And how much more work is ahead of us.”

“Climate change is our generation’s greatest environmental challenge,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “The Climate Action Plan charts a course for us to continue working toward reducing emissions. But it also helps us prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change, especially the vulnerable members of our community who will suffer the most. I am committed to doing what we can now to achieve a low carbon future and be prepared for the impacts of hotter, drier summers and warmer winters.”

Attend an open house event in March

The City of Portland and Multnomah County welcome feedback from the community through Apr. 10, 2015. Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/climate to read the draft 2015 Climate Action Plan and complete the online comment form.

Open houses are scheduled for:

  • Thursday, March 19, 2015, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., Portland, OR 97213
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at June Key Delta Community Center, 5940 North Albina St., Portland, OR 97217

Following community input and revisions, the draft plan will be considered for adoption by the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and the Portland City Council.

As global leaders grapple with the concerns and opportunities the changing climate presents, Portland has become an international destination for planners and decision-makers seeking proven strategies for climate action. Since 2010, more than 160 delegations from around the world have come to Portland to speak with business and government leaders to understand how Portland has lowered emissions while welcoming growth and creating a more livable community. Portland and Multnomah County now have 12,000 clean tech jobs, an increase of 25 percent in the last 15 years.

Highlights of the draft Climate Action Plan

  • This summer TriMet will open Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People, the largest bridge in the United States to carry people on transit, bikes and on foot, but no cars. To accommodate the potential for higher river levels from climate change, the height of the bridge above the water was increased. The draft plan calls for continued investments that expand active transportation options throughout Portland and ensure those infrastructure investments are resilient to the impacts of climate change. 
  • Over the last five years, Portland residents have installed more than 2,000 solar systems and more than 2,000 homeowners have insulated their houses. The draft plan calls for doubling solar installations through efforts like community solar and continuing to weatherize homes at a faster rate than ever.
  • This spring the Portland City Council will consider an energy tracking and reporting policy for large commercial buildings. If adopted, the City will work with building owners and managers to access resources to improve the energy performance of Portland’s largest 1,000 commercial buildings.
  • Recent changes to garbage and composting service have led to a 37 percent reduction in garbage headed to the landfill. Residential bills are down two years in a row, while Portland’s recycling rate has reached 70 percent, one of the highest in the nation. The draft plan focuses on reaching renters and large multifamily communities to get those numbers even higher.
  • The draft plan also proposes to broaden the City’s work on waste to look at “upstream” opportunities to make more efficient use of existing goods, vehicles and buildings, such as car-sharing and short-term rentals. Other new business models are emerging to make it easier for people to rent, borrow, repair, and reuse everyday goods.

The 2015 Climate Action Plan includes new areas of focus

Advancing equity: Portland is changing. More than half of the students in Portland Public Schools, for example, are people of color. Low-income communities and people of color in Multnomah County are likely to experience the impacts of climate change more acutely, including increased air pollution and heat waves.

At the same time, these communities historically have not had the same access to the kinds of services and infrastructure that make low-carbon choices easier and affordable, such as frequent transit service and adequate sidewalks in East Portland or energy efficiency programs that benefit renters. From transportation investments and economic opportunities to tree plantings and policy engagement, the 2015 draft plan prioritizes actions that reduce disparities and ensure that under-served and under-represented communities share in the benefits of climate action work.

“Certain populations, including low-income households, communities of color, linguistically isolated households, renters and older adults may be less able to prepare for and recover from impacts from climate change,” said Claudia Arana Colen, health equity coordinator, Upstream Public Health. “I am pleased to see the needs of vulnerable populations prioritized, and expect Portland and Multnomah County to deliver on their commitments to these communities as they implement this plan.”

Exploring consumption: For the first time, the Climate Action Plan includes a consumption-based inventory, tallying carbon emissions associated with all of the goods and services that are produced elsewhere and consumed in Multnomah County. This inventory considers carbon emissions from the full lifecycle of goods and services, including production, transportation, wholesale and retail, use and disposal. Global carbon emissions as a result of local consumer demand are larger than the volume of emissions produced locally.

The addition of the consumption-based inventory offers insight into a wider range of opportunities to reduce carbon. Residents, for example, can shift purchases toward goods that are durable and repairable. Businesses have opportunities throughout their supply chains to choose lower-carbon options, and new business models like car-sharing are emerging to make it easier to borrow, repair and reuse everyday goods.

How to comment

  1. Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/climate for more information about the new plan, and to read specific chapters or download the full draft plan.
  2. Comments on the draft 2015 City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan are due by April 10, 2015.
  3. Share your feedback on the draft plan using this online form.

Comments are also accepted by:
Email to: climate@portlandoregon.gov

Postal mail to:

RE: 2015 Climate Action Plan
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Avenue, #7100
Portland, OR 97201

Additional statements from City of Portland and Multnomah County

“Total carbon emissions in the U.S. are up 7 percent since 1990. Here, in Portland and Multnomah County, we’ve cut total emissions by 14 percent, with 30 percent more people and over 75,000 more jobs. Clearly we are headed in a different direction," said Susan Anderson, director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “The investments that have helped us cut energy use and reduce carbon emissions are the same things that make people want to live here: Creating walkable neighborhoods with shopping, restaurants and parks; investing in transit and bike facilities; and making our homes and buildings more efficient and comfortable.”

“Climate change is a threat to the health and wellbeing of our entire community, but will fall hardest on those most vulnerable to climate change impacts including older adults, children, people in poverty and people of color” said John Wasiutynski, director of the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability. “The County is committed to working with the communities we serve to ensure they are empowered to protect themselves and benefit from climate solutions.”
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