On July 29, 2021, at 2 p.m., City Council will hear a progress report on climate actions identified in the 2020 Climate Emergency Declaration. Staff from the Planning and Sustainability (BPS) and Transportation (PBOT) bureaus will share what’s been done in the past year, what is underway and what still needs to be done to reach the City’s goal of at least 50% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 and 100% by 2050 or sooner (“50 by 30 and 100 by 50”).
The progress report comes at a time when the realities of climate change are hitting closer to home and more severely harming Portlanders, especially our most vulnerable community members. People of color, low-income households, the elderly, children, and people living alone or experiencing houselessness are all disproportionately harmed by severe weather events like deadly and disastrous heat domes, snowstorms and wildfires.
These communities will continue to bear a disproportionate burden from climate change unless government policies, investments, and solutions center their voices and priorities.
But with members of some of these communities, over the past year City staff began implementing the emergency declaration in a couple of significant ways: the Climate Justice Initiative to create a new space for Black, Indigenous and communities of color to shape climate action priorities; and Build/Shift, a BIPOC-led community team working on equitable net-zero carbon buildings policy that prioritizes rental housing.
City bureaus also made some notable progress implementing other directives in the Climate Emergency Declaration:
- Adopting an internal cost of carbon for City operations, requiring bureaus and facilities to consider carbon costs in their decision-making.
- Supporting a youth-led summit on climate justice, organized by BIPOC youth to inform and empower themselves to center climate justice and wellness in their futures.
- Building several Rose Lane Projects (and more in progress), including transit priority lanes and spot improvements to make buses and streetcar faster and more reliable for riders.
With the impacts of climate change now a part of our everyday reality, it is clear that the City needs to advance climate actions faster. Immediate work ahead includes advancing EV-ready homes and buildings; 100% clean, renewable electricity supply for Portland; renewable fuels; reducing miles driven and supporting transportation electrification; decarbonizing buildings; reducing emission from the largest industrial and institutional emitters; as well as actions to keep Portlanders who are vulnerable to displacement rooted in their homes.
Through the Bureau of Transportation, the City has made significant investments in public transit, and biking and walking infrastructure, which will continue to help reduce emissions. But more needs to be done, with help from regional and state partners. Continued leadership from the City of Portland will be needed to change local, regional and state policies and find ways to invest in climate-smart infrastructure, as well as the encouragement and financial incentives needed to make infrastructure more accessible.
Appendix I of the report includes a brief status update on each sub-resolution in the Climate Emergency Declaration.
Watch the presentation
The presentation and discussion took place beginning at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 29. In addition to Council discussion, members of community groups shared their experiences living with climate change and the work they are doing to address it.