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Mayor Charlie Hales this week announced his Business Climate Challenge. The goal: To get at least 50 Portland businesses to join the city in committing to reduce carbon emissions.
And several Portland businesses already have stepped up to the challenge, including Elephants Delicatessen, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Indow, Trillium Asset Management, CH2M Hill, Widmer Brothers Brewing and the Moda Health.
The challenge is just one of a package of initiatives driven by the city, or going before City Council for Climate Week, Sept. 21 to 25.
“There’s this notion that the City of Portland is green, but that the business community is opposed,” Hales said. “That might have been true once, but not today. Today, members of our business community share our city’s values of equity and livability.”
One such business is Hopworks Urban Brewery.
“Mayor Hales’ climate challenge strikes at the heart of our mission,” said Christian Ettinger, Brewmaster and Founder of Hopworks. “For eight years we have proven that it is possible to have a sustainable, environmentally conscious business and be profitable. Today we join the Oregon Business Climate Declaration and commit to further examine every inch of our operation, creating efficient processes that lead to reduced environmental impact.”
Susan Anderson, director of the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, said Climate Week includes a series of events and initiatives hosted in New York City but with a global reach that connects cities, businesses, nations, organizations and individuals to address climate change. The week falls between the Vatican’s climate change summit in July, and the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, part of the Dec. 4 Paris Climate Conference, hosted by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, and Michael Bloomberg, the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.
Carbon emissions in Portland have declined 14 percent since 1990, well ahead of the national trend. Portland’s experience suggests that cities can reduce emissions as their economies and populations grow. “Portland’s work on climate is not limited to one week—in fact, it stretches back more than two decades,” Anderson said. “Collectively, we are making some real progress. We also recognize that we have a long way to go.”
Hales, Anderson and other city leaders kicked off the Mayor’s Business Climate Challenge with a Tuesday press conference that includes representatives of a wide array of progressive businesses.
More than 200 Portland businesses—and more than 400 across the state —have signed the Oregon Business Climate Declaration. Portland now is asking businesses to add their names to that list and to take specific steps in their operations to reduce emissions.
Thanks to Portland’s leadership on climate policy, Hales was invited to the Vatican summit in July and to the unveiling of the White House’s Clean Power Plan debut in August.
Portland adopted its Climate Action Plan in 1993 and, this year, updating it with new, ambitious goals. Since 2013, the city’s per capita carbon emissions are 35 percent below 1990 levels. Total carbon emissions are 14 percent below 1990.
Equally importantly, many of the same things that are reducing carbon emissions are creating jobs and making Portland a better place to live. Portland and Multnomah County now have 12,000 clean tech jobs, an increase of 25 percent in the last 15 years. Meanwhile, businesses leaders continue to retrofit their buildings, keeping energy costs down and creating decent jobs.
“We’ve created a city where businesses have an opportunity to grow, to create jobs, to support worker