Mayor Hales has attended two historic events in the fight against climate change, and is energized to reaffirm Portland's commitment to climate action.
Portland is a city of firsts: First U.S. city to replace a waterfront highway with a park; bring back the modern streetcar; adopt the Kyoto climate protocols; enact a green building policy. Portland has the highest bike ridership in the country, and was an inaugural member of C40, a league of cities banning together to fight climate change. Portland adopted a Climate Action Plan in 1993, a decade before most cities had even begun to grapple with those issues.
In the wake of invitations from the Pope and the President to attend climate-related conferences at the Vatican and the White House, Mayor Charlie Hales has reaffirmed Portland’s commitment to climate action, as well as to ensuring opportunity for all Portlanders.
“As the world faces the reality of climate change, we must continue to be a trailblazer,” Mayor Hales says. “We can’t just be green, we must be green and equitable at the same time. Ensuring access to the tools that make Portland a worldwide leader in sustainability will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will also help us build a Portland that is affordable, livable and equitable — a City of Opportunity.”
Here is a recap of the recent steps we’ve taken to act on climate:
> Climate Action Plan update: In June City Council passed updates to the Climate Action Plan, which lays out ambitious new goals and emphasizes equitable resources — serving low-income households and communities of color in order to advance equity through climate action efforts.
> Carbon Emissions Reduction resolution: City Council in June passed a resolutiondirecting City bureaus to implement policies and programs to keep Portland on a path of reducing local carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
> City of Portland energy from renewable sources: Currently City of Portland operations get nearly 100 percent of power from renewable sources — solar, biogas, in-pipe microhydro, etc. The goal is to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for city operations.
> Solar at City buildings: Currently the City of Portland generates 540,000 kilowatt hours from solar panels at 10 of its sites. The goal is to generate 2.36 million kilowatt hours with solar panels across City facilities.
> Clean diesel: The City of Portland’s entire fleet uses clean diesel — no more of the old, dirty diesel engines. The goal is to make clean diesel engine conversions more accessible to minority- and women-owned and emerging small businesses, which face hurdles to the investment.
> Electric vehicles: The City of Portland plans to add to its fleet 40 electric vehicles, making 20 percent of the City’s sedans electric by 2020.
> Fossil fuel disinvestment: Mayor Hales plans to bring to City Council a policy that will have the top 200 fossil fuel companies on the City of Portland’s do-not-buy list for direct investment of City funds.
> Establish fossil fuel export policy: This year Mayor Hales will ask City Council to consider establishing a fossil fuel export policy. “Pembina raised the question,” Mayor Hales says. “The City didn’t have a policy to address the issue. It’s time we make clear Portland’s expectations.”
Follow #PDXinRome on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for Mayor Hales' posts from Italy.
Listen: Mayor talks to OPB about historic Vatican summit, action items for Portland
JULY 28, 2015 — Listen to the mayor's conversation with Think Out Loud. He talks about next steps for Portland -- part of the virtuous competition to take climate action:
Establish a fossil fuel export policy;
Add fossil fuel companies to do-not-buy list for City investment;
Establish a goal for the City of 2.36 million kWh of electricity fromsolar;
100% renewable energy for City operations;
20% of the City's sedans electric vehicles;
Convert all streetlights to LEDs (will save more than $100,000 per month!).
Mayor talks to OPB about historic Vatican summit
JULY 28, 2015 — Mayor Hales today talked with OPB's Think Out Loud program about his visit to the Vatican for Pope Francis' historic summit on climate change and modern slavery — the first time the Vatican has gathered local leaders, in order to mobilize grassroots climate action.
"Cities are the place where innovation happens," Mayor Hales said. "This network of cities is really beginning to have an impact on the global discussion about climate change."
An excerpt: "About 60 mayors from around the world gathered here on Tuesday and pledged to combat global warming and help the poor deal with its effects, at a conference swiftly organized by the Vatican barely a month after Pope Francis’ sweeping encyclical on the environment.
The two-day conference, which also focused on fighting forms of modern slavery, was not the first time that the Vatican had organized a meeting on the issue. But it was the first time that it specifically invited local officials, hoping to mobilize grass-roots action and maintain pressure on world leaders for action ahead of a global summit meeting on climate change scheduled for December in Paris."
The Oregonian: 'Charlie Hales: Cities can lead fight against climate change'
JULY 22, 2015 — Following a conference call Mayor Hales hosted from Rome, The Oregonian writes about the mayor's experience at the Vatican. An excerpt: "'Street by street, light-rail line by light -ail line, solar array by solar array, that's how change actually happens,' Hales said.
"Hales said Portland is a 'model and a leader in this movement,' but can still do hundreds of things to fight climate change, such as burn different fuels, build different buildings and give residents more choices in how to get to work.
"Some of those ideas could already be available in other cities, he said, adding: 'There's nothing wrong with a virtuous contest among cities of who can do a better job of saving the planet.'"
Portland delegation tweets from Vatican discussion - Day 2
JULY 22, 2015 — Mayor Charlie Hales, First Lady Nancy Hales, and Office of Government Relations Director Martha Pellegrino tweeted during the second day's discussion of climate change and modern slavery, convened by Pope Francis to highlight the human effects of climate change.
The second day's discussion featured remarks by mayors working on innovative ways to close gaps in income, quality of life, and opportunities — and do so sustainably, both in terms of environment and longevity.
And here's a clip of Pope Francis speaking to the mayors:
Mayor, from Rome, holds conference call with reporters
JULY 22, 2015 — The Portland delegation in Rome: Nancy Hales, there for Portland State University and as First Lady; Mayor Charlie Hales, one of 10 U.S. mayors invited to the international convening by Pope Francis; and Office of Government Relations Director Martha Pellegrino. The delegation held a conference call with reporters at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time, 7:30 p.m. Rome time.
Mayor Hales interviewed by KGW's NBC affiliate in Italy
Mayor Hales talks to KGW-TV's NBC News affiliate in #Rome about Portland as a leader in sustainability. "Young people in...
JULY 21, 2015 — In this 30-second video, Mayor Hales discusses Pope Francis' remarks to mayors during the first day of the international summit at the Vatican, Modern Slavery & Climate Change: The Commitment of Cities.
Portland delegation tweets from Vatican discussion
JULY 21, 2015 — Mayor Charlie Hales and Office of Government Relations Director Martha Pellegrino tweeted during the first day's discussion of climate change and modern slavery, convened by Pope Francis to highlight the human effects of climate change.
The discussion featured remarks by mayors and worldwide leaders in sustainability, as well as remarks from human trafficking survivors.
A photo posted by Charlie Hales (@mayorpdx) on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:36am PDT
The New York Times covers the Vatican convening
JULY 21, 2015 — The New York Times covers the Vatican summit on climate change and human trafficking, at which Mayor Hales joins worldwide mayors in addressing this global challenge. An excerpt: "Dozens of mayors from around the world demanded Tuesday that their national leaders take bold steps at the Paris climate talks this year, saying that could be the last chance to keep the Earth's warming to levels still safe for humanity. ... Mayors invited to a two-day Vatican conference lined up to sign a final declaration stating that 'human-induced climate change is a scientific reality and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.'" READ THE FULL STORY
"Pope Francis' encyclical -- a remarkable document -- asserts that climate change affects the world's most vulnerable people," Mayor Hales says. "We here in Portland are working to use our policies to take climate action, as well as to close gaps. Our goals are accessibility, equity, and sustainability for all Portlanders, making everything we love about Portland and that puts Portland on the world stage with all Portlanders."
#PDXinRome: First Lady blogs about comparisons between PDX and SPQR
An excerpt: "Are these interesting coincidences or do they suggest something deeper about cities? Maybe to be a authentic place, a city needs a founding story. Piazzas and public gatherings are also required to enhance civic life. People-watching, whether on the sidewalk in an evening passegia or at a street fair on Mississippi Ave., is something both visceral and necessary. Connection to food and the soil of the local farmland is an idea whose time has come back for American cities." READ the full blog post.
An excerpt from her first entry, about the gift from Portland to the pope: "The hand-crafted bronze rose, below, has been designed and cast for Pope Francis by local Portland artist Kendall Mingey. Pope Francis, we have learned, has a special fondness for white roses, so Kendall lightly flocked the flower with white. The mold was broken after it was cast. Look closely. The bronze rose is actually a 'reliquary,' which means a small vessel carrying precious items. There is a little secret compartment in the bud at the center. In this compartment, she placed several seeds from Portland’s white rose bushes. 'Seeds symbolize hope,' she told me, 'and the Pope is all about hope.'" READ the full post.
On Thursday, Pope Francis will release a letter to all bishops within the Roman Catholic Church outlining the global effects of climate change. According to a draft document of the encyclical, leaked to an Italian newspaper this week, the pontiff is expected to call for a global assembly of leaders to find solutions to global pollution, because failure could have "grave consequences for all of us."
New York Times: Pope Francis to explore climate's effect on world's poor
JUNE 15, 2015 — Mayor Hales is among 16 mayors invited by Pope Francis to discuss climate change at a gathering in Vatican City in July. This New York Times piece gives an overview of why the pope has taken on the issue of climate change. An excerpt:
"On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope’s widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science.
Francis, the first pope from the developing world, clearly wants the document to have an impact: Its release comes during a year with three major international policy meetings, most notably a United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December. This month, the Vatican sent notifications to bishops around the world with instructions for spreading the pope’s environmental message to the more than one billion Catholics worldwide.
By wading into the environment debate, Francis is seeking to redefine a secular topic, one usually framed by scientific data, using theology and faith. And based on Francis’ prior comments, and those of influential cardinals, the encyclical is also likely to include an economic critique of how global capitalism, while helping lift millions out of poverty, has also exploited nature and created vast inequities."
JUNE 12, 2015 — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is one of 16 mayors from throughout the world invited to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican in July.
Vatican officials have called mayors together to address two topics: Climate change, and human trafficking.
Portland has been an international leader on the topic of climate change, with recognition from the White House and C40, an international consortium of cities focusing on carbon emotions and climate change. The city adopted a climate action plan in 1993 and, as a member of C40, is committed to addressing climate change.
Portland also is in the midst of a severe increase in gang violence, fueled in part by an increased reliance on prostitution by local gangs.
“These are crises facing every city in the world. Cites have to work together, and this is an opportunity to do just that,” Charlie Hales said. ”It’s an honor for the mayors to address the Pope.”
“Modern Slavery and Climate Change – The Commitment of the Cities,” is being sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Science, July 21, at Vatican City. Participants likely will include mayors of Berlin, Minneapolis, Oslo, Norway, Seattle, and Boulder, Colo.
Mayors taking part in the sustainability discussion are expected from Rome, New York City, Seoul, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Istanbul and Melbourne.
The Vatican also will release an encyclical this week, focusing on global warming as a manmade phenomenon.
Hales will be meeting with leaders – on the topics of both climate change and human trafficking – throughout Oregon in the coming weeks, to coordinate a message for the Vatican visit.
Mayor Hales announces Vatican visit at Celebrate Trade Gala
MAY 18, 2015 — Mayor Hales speaks at the Celebrate Trade gala about Portland's tremendous economic growth -- from having a $21 million DEFICIT in 2013, when the mayor took office, to having a $49 million SURPLUS this year. That's driven by business connections, and worldwide connections. Through the Portland Development Commission, we continue to build those. "We have become a global city," the mayor says. And he has an exciting announcement about Pope Francis!
Following a listening session with biking advocates, Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick moved to act quickly to improve bike safety, as the city works on long-term solutions.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2015 — Mayor Charlie Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick, and Transportation Director Leah Treat on Tuesday hosted a listening session with biking advocates and public safety officials to hear ideas about how to make Portland safer for bicyclists, following several tragic incidents in May.
City officials came away with action items that can be implemented immediately, supplementing efforts already underway by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). Action items include:
Experiment with diverters: Biking advocates called for diverters to reduce auto traffic on neighborhood greenways that are intended to promote bicycle and pedestrian use. Using neighborhood greenway traffic count and speed data PBOT has already collected for a report that will go to City Council in late summer, PBOT will experiment with diverters — which allow bicycles through but block cars — at different locations, similar to the Better Naito pilot happening now. PBOT will work with a Vision Zero Safety Committee that will be created to inform the issue of bicycle safety in Portland.
Unmanned speed cameras: House Bill 2621 would allow the city to install unmanned speed cameras along high-crash corridors to aid police in traffic enforcement. Speeding is the top contributing factor to fatal crashes across the metro region: If a person is struck by a car going less than 20 mph, she has a 90 percent chance of surviving; at 40 mph, that likelihood drops to 20 percent. Portland has 10 high-crash corridors that account for over half of all pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. You can help: Contact your legislators and tell them you want to support Portland’s efforts to slow down traffic and make the streets safer for all users.
Funding Vision Zero projects: City Council recently provided funding to make infrastructure improvements on two of the most dangerous streets in Portland — Southeast 122nd Avenue and Burnside Street — to make them safer for pedestrians and transit users. Further, Mayor Hales’ budget includes more than $19 million for transportation maintenance and safety projects, including $4 million for safety projects on Southeast 122nd Avenue.
Safety improvements in the central city: The Central City Safety Improvements project will plan for $5.5 million in bicycle infrastructure upgrades downtown and in the rest of the central city. It will be underway soon; PBOT hired a project manager last week.
Pledge to slow down: The City will partner with advocates to support the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's Travel with Care Campaign and Pledge. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance told officials on Tuesday that research shows that if people pledge to drive more safely, it actually makes a difference. City officials will start with city employees, and get as many Portlanders as possible to sign on.
The mayor's proposed budget focuses strongly on his message of taking care of what we have and investing in a better future.
Mayor Charlie Hales today outlined a proposed budget for the coming year that will focus on basic services, public safety and new resources for Portland’s youth, especially those at risk of being entangled in gang violence. Between his morning announcement and afternoon media meeting, he answered questions on Twitter about his budget. Here's a roundup of the Q&A.
Please join the conv about my budget proposal at #pdxbudget Thanks! Charlie Hales