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City Council Adopts Climate Emergency Declaration

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Co-sponsored by Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Eudaly, Commissioner Hardesty, and Commissioner Fritz, the Resolution strengthens the City’s climate action approach to focus on climate justice and equity for the benefit of all Portlanders.

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Blue banner that reads Mayor Ted Wheeler, City of Portland, press release.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voted to adopt a Resolution, the Climate Emergency Declaration, that acknowledges the Portland metro area faces a human-made climate emergency and  frontline communities as being the least responsible for, but most impacted by, climate change. With the Climate Emergency Declaration, the City of Portland is committing to using a new climate justice and equity-focused approach that centers Black, Indigenous, other communities of color and youth from those communities in the next chapter of climate action planning and implementation.  

“The science is indisputable, and we see the effects of climate change every day—from the devastating extreme weather events happening all around the world to the impacts we feel close to home, like wildfires in the summertime,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “But the truth is that climate change doesn’t impact us all in the same way. Our frontline communities, including Portland’s Black, Indigenous and communities of color, are being hit first and worst by the impacts of the climate crisis and Portland’s youth will be facing the consequences of today’s decisions for the rest of their lives.” 

The Declaration: 

  • Seeks to support and advance climate justice and climate action initiatives led by the community, especially Black, Indigenous and other communities of color and youth. 
  • Pursues partnerships with youth-serving organizations to support a youth-led summit on climate in 2020. 
  • Establishes a new, ongoing climate justice initiative that will provide a framework for government and community to work together as equal partners to identify and implement strategies that will advance a shared vision for climate justice and action.  
  • Amends the City’s emission reduction targets to at least 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions before 2050. 
  • Advances efforts focused on expanding community ownership of renewables and driving down emissions from commercial and multifamily residential buildings. ​ 
  • Requires transportation justice, where projects and policies will reduce carbon emissions while advancing racial equity. 
  • Commits the City to work with Metro and TriMet to find resources to fund a year-round transit pass for all Portland youth.  
  • Commits the City to adopt new policies to reduce carbon from buildings and the transportation sector, including becoming an EV-ready city, that prioritizes action, benefits and protections for renters and low-income residents.  
  • Commits the City to adopt new policies that prevent further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the City, and quicken the transition to clean, renewable fuel options that are also good for air quality. 
  • Commits the City to update protections and enhance tree canopy in Portland, especially in East Portland to address public health risks and urban heat island.   
  • Requires ODOT to put dynamic pricing in place on freeways before Portland City Council will approve additional lane miles.   
  • States the City Council's expectation that the two electric utilities, PGE and PacifiCorp, deliver 100% clean, renewable electricity to all Portland residents and businesses no later than 2030, and calls on NW Natural to fully decarbonize its gas pipeline no later than 2050.  

“We need to act urgently to address the climate crisis and enact racial justice,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “The transportation justice lens in this Climate Emergency Declaration will shine a light on the connections between transportation and climate, health, economic development, public safety, housing, anti-displacement work and more. This resolution will help us make substantive progress for the people who need it most at a faster pace.” 

“All three mayors I’ve served with have centered attention and action on addressing climate disruption,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Thank you to Mayor Wheeler who took the time to engage the community to set these meaningful strategies; thanks to all the youth and climate action advocates for your partnership. We have set realistic goals that are challenging.  We must achieve them. They are a floor not the ceiling and if we can get there faster, we all know that we need to.”   

“For too long, our BIPOC communities have been on the frontlines, disproportionately impacted by climate change,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “I want to highlight what a difference it makes when we put the time and energy into thoughtful and deep community engagement around policy – the result is something like this declaration that not only centers BIPOC communities but is created with and for them.” 

What does a climate justice approach look like?  

A climate justice approach centers the voices and priorities of those who are most impacted by climate change, to co-create strategies and implement solutions. The Climate Emergency Declaration will establish a climate justice initiative to provide a framework for the City of Portland, Multnomah County, community partners and funders to work together as equal partners to identify and implement strategies that will advance a shared vision for climate justice and action in an ongoing, iterative approach.  

A climate justice approach also focuses on creating equitable community benefits that build wealth, well-being and resilience of frontline communities while reducing carbon emissions. Communities of color are leading groundbreaking climate action initiatives in Portland. These strong models, including the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund and the Zero Cities Project are the future of community-led climate action centering racial and social justice.  

In an effort toward increased collaboration with community, Mayor Wheeler directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability in October 2019 to work with local groups, residents, City bureaus and partner agencies to gather more feedback on what Portland should include in its Climate Emergency Declaration.  

The Climate Emergency Declaration builds on Portland’s 25-plus years of climate mitigation planning, recognizes the leadership of frontline communities who bear the worst burden of climate change, and sets a new path for the future of the City’s climate action work. The declaration is a roadmap for the values, priorities and processes that will guide Portland’s climate work over the coming decades. 

Follow the future of climate action at the city level at www.portland.gov/bps/climate and @PortlandBPS on Twitter.  

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