Progress to-date on carbon emissions reductions

Line graph showing emissions since 1990 trending down with a marker at "We are here" for 2023 as well as a trendline from 2010-2021, and a marker for "-50%" at 2030 and "net zero" at 2050.
Portland and Multnomah County have been tracking local carbon emission for more than 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:

  • 50% carbon emissions reductions over 1990 baseline by 2030 (CED)
  • 100% renewable electricity by 2030 (CED)
  • Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (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.)
Four circles that show the progress of time, shown in smaller circles, along with this data: emissions were reduced 21% since 1990 with a goal of 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050, energy consumption is down 30% since 1990, renewable energy mix is up 34% with a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy from all other sources by 2050, and community ownership remains at zero, with a 2030 goal of 2% and a 2050 goal of 10%.
Emissions reductions, energy consumption, renewable energy, and community ownership of renewable energy generation assets. *Portland's renewable energy goal is 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy from all other sources by 2050.

Progress has been made in many areas. However, with only 6.5 years until 2030, there is much more action needed to get help Portland reach climate emergency goals.

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.
Graph that shows the percent change in carbon emissions from 1990 levels for both United States emissions, shown in blue, and Multnomah County, shown in red. The blue line moves from the start of 0% up to around 15% in 2005 then back down as low as around -7% in 2000 before moving up slightly to around -2%. Portland's red line moves up slightly through 2000 then drops with considerable up and down movement to as low as -25% in 2000 before a slight increase to around -21% for 2021.
Figure 1: Carbon emission trends in Multnomah County have been significantly below U.S. trends in most years since 2002. Despite Portland’s steeper emissions reductions, the data shows how much broader national economic conditions.

In 2021, total carbon emissions in Multnomah County were 21% below 1990 levels. This is a 4.8% increase over the historic low point that resulted from the first year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. These reductions have been achieved despite the fact that Portland welcomed nearly 40% more people and added 28% more jobs since 1990.

Emission increases from 2020 pandemic levels were less than expected by BPS climate analysts. Residential and commercial sector emissions increased only 1% and 2% respectively. This was largely the result of more use of residential propane and fuel oil and increased economic activity in the commercial sector increasing natural gas, kerosene, and propane. Industrial sector emissions increased 6% from the first year of the pandemic, reflecting increased use of natural gas, fuel oil, and residual fuel oil. In addition, transportation sector emissions increased 8% from 2020 levels, largely the result of higher gasoline sales. Metro preliminary data on daily vehicle miles traveled per person showed at 13% increase from 2020.

Emissions by sector

As shown in the image below, the breakdown of carbon emissions by sector in Multnomah County in 2021:

  • Transportation – 44%
  • Commercial buildings – 21%
  • Residential buildings – 17%
  • Industrial use – 12%
  • Fugitive emissions – 4%
  • Landfilled waste – 2%
This graph shows circles with emissions by sector represented in both number and size of the circles. Transportation is the largest circle at 44% of emissions followed by commercial at 21%, then residential at 17%, industrial at 12%, fugitive emissions at 4%, and finally landfilled waste at 2%.
Figure 2: Carbon emissions by sector in Multnomah County for 2021.

Emissions by sector shifted in 2021 due to changes in data inputs that increase the accuracy of the inventory. Oregon released a new methodology for the historic fugitive emissions, increasing those estimates. In addition, the Energy Information Administration changed the methodology for annual estimates of transportation sector diesel and propane consumption in Oregon, increasing transportation sector emissions.

Emissions changes

Multnomah County carbon emissions peaked in 2000. This chart compares sectoral emissions from the 2000 peak level to current carbon emissions. While most sectors have declined, transportation sector emissions continue to increase to 3% over 2000 levels.

This bar graph shows the emissions change for each sector with a red bar for 2000 and a blue bar for 2021. Single-family residential, industrial, commercial, and transportation are the largest bars with 2021 data showing a decrease for all except transportation, which had a slight increase for 2021. Solid Waste, wastewater treatment, and fugitive emissions all are much smaller with all decreasing except fugitive emissions, which more than doubled in size for 2021.
Figure 3: Carbon emissions changes by sector in Multnomah County, year 2000 versus 2021.

This donut-shaped pie chart shows carbon emissions by source for Multnomah County. Each section shows the source, percent, and an icon. Electricity is 24%, gasoline is 24%, natural gas is 19%, diesel is 18%, propane is 4%, fuel oil is 4%, fugitive emissions is 4%, landfilled solid waste is 2% and commercial and industrical gasoline is 1%.
Figure 4: Carbon emissions by source in Multnomah County for 2020.

Emissions by source

As shown in the diagram above, the largest sources of carbon emissions in Multnomah County in 2021 were:

  1. Electricity – 24%
  2. Gasoline – 24%
  3. Natural gas – 19%
  4. Diesel – 187%

Additional sources include propane (4%) fuel oil (4%), fugitive emissions (4%), landfilled solid waste (2%), and commercial and industrial motor gasoline (1%).

This figure shows the 2020 electricity mix for Multnomah County. It includes 35% natural gas, 30% coal, 22% hydro, 10% wind, 2% solar and 1% other.
Figure 5: Multnomah County percentage of electricity generation by source for PGE and Pacific Power in 2020.

Electricity generation sources

As shown in the chart above, the sources for electricity generation in Multnomah County for PGE and Pacific Power in 2020 were:

  • Natural gas – 35%
  • Coal – 30%
  • Hydro – 22%
  • Wind – 10%
  • Solar - 2%
  • Other* – 1%

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

Source: Oregon Department of Energy Oregon Electricity Use Resource Mix for PGE and Pacific Power, including market and Bonneville Power Administration purchases, 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 30 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