Why Portland needs climate action now
The science is unequivocal: To prevent irreversible damage to the planet, we must keep average global temperatures from increasing 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.
In Portland, our window is closing to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions and avoid the worst-case climate change scenarios. Portlanders already are experiencing record-shattering heat, choking smoke from increasing wildfires, more frequent floods, and other extreme weather that is changing our lives and the city we share.
But there is good news. We have a plan, the technologies — and we still have the time — to change the course of events for the people of Portland, those here today and those who will come after us. But we must act now.
Two targets to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
City Council declared a climate emergency in 2020 and directed City bureaus to restore a safe climate for all Portlanders, the needs and priorities of Black and Indigenous communities, people experiencing low income, and community members who are most at-risk and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This requires that we meet two carbon-reduction targets:
- By 2030, we must slash Portland’s planet-warming carbon emissions 50% or more, compared to 1990 levels. We have eight years to meet this goal or else getting to net-zero could become impossible.
- By 2050, we must reduce carbon emissions to net-zero.
How will we do it?
“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F). Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.” — Jim Skea, Co-Chair, IPCC Working Group III (April 4, 2022)
Portland’s Climate Emergency Workplan comprises priority actions to reduce carbon from the sectors that produce it and from the consumption of food, goods and materials; sequester carbon in trees and green spaces; and build Portlanders’ resilience to the impacts of climate change, focusing on the people and communities who are most vulnerable.
Making Portlanders resilient to climate change
Eliminating carbon from our buildings, vehicles, and businesses is one part of addressing the climate emergency. The other part is helping residents become resilient to day-to-day impacts of climate change like excessive heat, wildfire smoke, power outages, flooding and more. Portland’s Climate Emergency Workplan includes resilience actions that respond to the reality that Black, Indigenous and communities of color are being hit first and hardest by these events.
Most of the priority actions in the Climate Emergency Workplan will require City Council consideration. City bureaus and departments will approach Council with specific requests over the next three years (2022-2025).
We encourage Portlanders to read the Climate Emergency Workplan, including the full list of priority actions to decarbonize the city and make residents more resilient: