News from the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Portland City Council adopts Climate Change Preparation Strategy, Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment
New strategy guides local policies, operations, services and infrastructure in response to climate change projections
Portland, ORE. — Portland City Council today voted to adopt the Climate Change Preparation Strategy and the associated Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment. This strategy completes an action from the 2009 City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan to identify how climate change will affect the region and what actions are needed to protect communities.
“Preparing our community for the impacts of a changing climate is simply good, responsible management,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, City of Portland. “We’re fortunate that Portland doesn’t face the same scale of threats that many coastal cities must deal with, but we do expect real impacts and take them seriously. At the same time, reducing carbon emissions remains a crucial component of Portland’s climate work."
The strategy and background report explore the impacts of climate change on various sectors, including people, infrastructure, and natural systems likes rivers and wetlands. Potential impacts to food production, climate migrants, energy systems and the economy are also briefly explored in the strategy. The strategy establishes 12 objectives and identifies more than 80 actions to build climate resilience into Portland’s and Multnomah County’s policies, operations, services and infrastructure over the coming years.
“This plan is about fairness,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “People who are going to be most vulnerable to the heat are older adults, our homeless population, people of color and low-income community members who don’t have the means to adapt or get out of town. Multnomah County is committed to helping prepare this community to protect their health.”
Portland’s climate future is expected to be characterized by warmer winters with heavier rainstorms and hotter, drier summers with an increased frequency of high-heat days. The strategy identifies five distinct risks:
Hotter, drier summers with more high-heat days
- Risk 1: Increased temperatures (both day and night) and frequency of high-heat days.
- Risk 2: Increased frequency of drought.
- Risk 3: Increased wildfire frequency and intensity.
Warmer winters with the potential for more intense rain events
- Risk 4: Increased frequency and magnitude of damaging floods.
- Risk 5: Increased landslides.
Successful preparation requires an understanding of how climate change may affect people most vulnerable to expected impacts, particularly increased temperatures, poor air quality and flooding. Where possible, the strategy recommends prioritizing preparation actions in communities such as low-income populations and communities of color where people face current and historical disparities that may be exacerbated by climate change impacts.
Carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use changes, including deforestation, are the primary drivers of the climate change we are experiencing today and expect to see in the future. Reducing carbon emissions remains a crucial component of climate change preparation work.
Developed by the City of Portland and Multnomah County, the strategy and background report were informed by advisors from the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Department of Geology & Mineral Industries and the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission.
With today’s adoption of the Climate Change Preparation Strategy, City and County staff will build on existing efforts to reduce risks from climate change impacts through implementation, capacity building, research, monitoring and evaluation.
The strategy and assessment are linked to the City of Portland and Multnomah County Climate Action Plan, which integrates City and County work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause 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, the first version of which was adopted in 1993.
BPS will soon release the updated Climate Action Plan for public comment, and staff will integrate the main recommendations from the Climate Change Preparation Strategy. Visit Portland’s Climate Preparation and Action website to learn more about the Climate Action Plan update project and other existing climate efforts.
About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, and a sustainable food system; and, policy and actions to address climate change.