Portland's progress to-date on carbon emissions reductions

portion of line graph showing emissions trending down with a marker at "We are here" partway down the line, and a label "-50%" even further down the line
Portland and Multnomah County have been tracking local carbon emission for nearly 30 years, using an annual sector-based emissions inventory.
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Climate Emergency Dashboard

The dashboard ​shows progress toward the goals in the Climate Emergency Declaration and Workplan as well as the City’s 2017 100% Renewable Energy Resolution.

Adopted goals include: 

  • Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (CED)
  • 50% carbon emissions reductions over 1990 baseline by 2030 (CED)
  • 100% renewable electricity by 2030 (CED)
  • 100% renewable energy from all sources by 2050 (100% Renewable Energy)
  • 2% community ownership of renewable energy generation assets by 2030 and 10% by 2050 (100% Renewable Energy.)
4 circles side-by-side with text: -25% Emissions Reduction; -30% Energy Consumption; 25% Renewable Energy; 0% Community Ownership

The Climate Emergency Dashboard tracks carbon emissions reductions, energy consumption, renewable energy mix, and percent of community ownership of renewable energey generation assets. *Portland's renewable energy goal is 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy from all other sources by 2050. 

Carbon emissions and trends

Portland has been working to address climate change for nearly 30 years, with local emissions declining from their peak in 2000. Among other factors, these reductions are due to a combination of:

  • Improved efficiency in buildings, appliances and vehicles.
  • A shift to lower-carbon energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels.
  • Land use planning for healthy, connected neighborhoods that enable more walking, biking and public transit.
  • Reduced methane emissions from landfills and more composting and recycling.
Line graph showing Multnomah County emissions trending significantly lower than U.S. emisisons beginning in 2001
Emissions in Multnomah County have been significanly below U.S. emissions in most years since 2002.

In 2020, total carbon emissions in Multnomah County were 25% below 1990 levels, as a result of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. Since 1990, Portland has welcomed 42% more people and 27% more jobs – including pandemic job losses in 2020. Local emissions decreased by 10.5% from 2019 to 2020.

Pandemic related reductions resulted from lower industrial and commercial sector energy use, including 11% lower commercial electricity consumption and 9% lower industrial electricity consumption. Industrial natural gas consumption also declined about 13%. Gasoline consumption declined 17% due to reduced daily vehicle miles travelled, however diesel fuel consumption increased, likely due to more freight and home delivery services.

Most of these reductions are the result of external circumstances and are not the result of policy or permanent behavior change. BPS expects these emissions to return to pre-pandemic levels without policy interventions that more permanently affect economic and infrastructure systems as well as consumer behavior.

While Portland experienced 10.5% reduction in total carbon emissions from 2019 to 2020 as a result of the global pandemic, a large share of those reductions were also from a 16% drop in electric grid carbon intensity for the Northwest Power Pool. This led to reductions in residential sector emissions, even though electricity consumption did not decline. These reductions appear to be the result of higher rainfall in the pacific northwest, which increased nearly 25% in the Portland Metro area 2019-2020*.

*PNW Temperature, Precipitation, and SWE Trend Analysis Tool | Office of the Washington State Climatologist

Emissions by sector

As shown in the image below, the breakdown of carbon emissions by sector in Multnomah County in 2020:

  • Transportation – 42%
  • Commercial buildings – 23%
  • Residential buildings – 18%
  • Industrial use – 13%
  • Fugitive emissions – 3%
  • Landfilled waste – 2%
Bubble graph showing emissions percentages by sector.
Carbon emissions by sector in Multnomah County for 2020.

Emissions changes

Carbon emissions dropped in every major sector in Multnomah County from 2000 to 2020:

  1. Single family residential
  2. Industrial
  3. Commercial
  4. Transportation
  5. Solid waste
  6. Wastewater treatment
  7. Fugitive emissions
Bar chart showing emissions reductions by sector for 2000 and 2020.
Carbon emissions changes by sector in Multnomah County, year 2000 versus 2020.

Emissions by source

As shown in the diagram below, the biggest sources of carbon emissions in Multnomah County for 2020 are:

  1. Electricity – 25%
  2. Gasoline – 24%
  3. Natural gas – 22%
  4. Diesel – 17%

Additional sources include fuel oil (3%), fugitive emisisons (3%), propane (2%), landfilled solid waste (2%), and other sources (2%).

Bubble diagram showing level of emissions by source.
Carbon emissions by source in Multnomah County for 2020.

Electricity generation sources

As shown in the chart below, the sources for electricity generation for PGE and Pacific Power for Multnomah County in 2019 are:

  • Natural gas – 41%
  • Coal – 33%
  • Hydro – 18%
  • Wind – 7%
  • Other* – 2%

*Other sources include biomass, nuclear, solar, biogas, waste, other biogenic, petroleum, and geothermal.

Chart showing electricity generation sources: Natural gas 41%, Coal 33%, Hydro 18%, Wind 7% and Other 2%
Percentage of electricity generation by source for PGE and Pacific Power in 2019. Source: Oregon Department of Energy, weighted average based on utility sales calculated by Portland BPS. 

Carbon emissions and trends reports

Portland has been working to address climate change for more than 25 years, with local emissions declining from their peak in 2000.

Take action

Check your own emissions

Households and businesses can assess their own carbon emissions by using free online tools, like the Cool Climate Network’s calculators: 

Learn more

Read the Climate Emergency Workplan