Portland City Council shares praise, gratitude for Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Climate Emergency Workplan

News Article
Public comment remains open until second hearing on Wednesday, August 24
Published

On Wednesday, July 20, 2022, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) presented the new Climate Emergency Workplan (CEW) to City Council. The CEW serves as the implementation plan for the Climate Emergency Declaration adopted by Council in 2020.  

The Workplan was developed in cooperation with 11 City bureaus as a framework for actions that must be taken to ensure Portland reaches 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and 100% reduction by 2050 from 1990 levels. The CEW was created from the direction and foundation established by the Climate Emergency Declaration, which involved extensive community outreach, including work with approximately 50 community organizations and consideration of hundreds of comments from members of the public. The Workplan will serve as the City’s official Climate Action Plan until 2025, when BPS returns to Council with the next iteration of the City's climate action plan, which will include many opportunities for public comment and engagement. 

“The Plan rests on a foundation of community input, engagement, and involvement that went into our North Star policies: Climate Emergency Declaration, the 100% Renewable Energy Resolution, the 2035 Comprehensive Plan,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio during the meeting. “Implementing these policies means deeply engaging with communities, nonprofit organizations, business, industry, labor, renters, property owners, academia, and other agencies at all levels of government to wrestle with difficult policy choices.” 

About a dozen people testified to Commissioners as to the urgency of the Workplan. Community members will have another chance to testify on the CEW in person on Wednesday, August 24 at 10:25 a.m. and/or submit testimony in writing.  

This Workplan comes at a time when the realities of climate change are hitting closer to home and more severely affecting Portlanders, especially our most vulnerable community members. People of color, low-income households, the elderly, children, and people living alone or experiencing houselessness are disproportionately harmed by severe weather events, poor air quality, frequent flooding, and more.   

Last year’s heat dome, fires and smoke were a wake-up call. 

“I wish I could tell you about the critical milestones that the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) has achieved in the last year to advance climate resilience for Portland. Unfortunately in the last few years, our climate milestones and solutions have been of a totally different sort,” said Jonna Papaefthimiou, PBEM’s chief resilience officer. “Here in Portland, we had our first time responding to an air-quality emergency and managing a shelter for wildfire evacuees, we had our first experience opening and staffing an emergency cooling center, and we organized a memorial for people who passed away in last summer’s heat dome.” 

What’s in the Climate Emergency Workplan? 

The Workplan covers two key areas where priority actions must occur: decarbonization (i.e., reducing carbon emissions) and climate resilience. Addressing our major emissions sources, improving urban tree canopies, and building resilience to the impacts that are already here, all play a crucial role in protecting the Earth from further warming and our community members from harm caused by extreme weather, deadly heat, and unhealthy air. 

The CEW includes 43 priority actions that focus on the climate crisis and put Portland on the path to achieve the climate goals established in the Climate Emergency Declaration. Decarbonization actions are organized by emissions sector: 

  • Energy supply – Electricity, natural gas 

  • Buildings – Commercial, industrial, multi-family properties, single-family homes 

  • Transportation – Diesel (commercial trucks, buses), gasoline (passenger vehicles, delivery vans) 

  • Industry – Manufacturing, processing, materials management 

Resilience actions are organized by risks, such as wildfire and flooding, and investments in solutions like increased tree canopy, natural-resource protection, resilience hubs and more. 

To implement the CEW, City bureaus and departments will approach City Council with specific requests for funding and approval over the next three years. These priority actions are based on the best available science and grounded in the wisdom, experience and input from community organizations and individuals living on the frontlines of climate change.  

Background 

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff led a process with 10 other bureaus and offices to compile all the work within City bureaus related to climate action – both decarbonization and resilience – under one umbrella plan: the Climate Emergency Workplan. The CEW will serve as the City’s climate action plan until 2025.  

The priorities in the Workplan map to the Climate Emergency Declaration, the 100% Renewable Energy Resolution, the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, and the Citywide Systems Plan. In other words, the Workplan represents policies, plans, projects, and programs that are grounded in existing goals and directives but previously have not been  compiled or synchronized. By coordinating and prioritizing, we can maximize our resources to more efficiently, effectively and – perhaps most importantly – rapidly achieve our climate goals.  

Learn more at the Climate Emergency Workplan website.  

Contact

Andria Jacob

Climate Policy and Program Manager, BPS