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Climate Emergency Declaration: Have Your Say on June 30th!

By Diana M. and Janet Weil

The City of Portland will hold a hearing on June 30th, 6:30 – 8:30pm, on the revised draft of the Climate Emergency Declaration. The Declaration has been revised after the City received feedback from 36 organizations, including XRPDX. Many suggestions, centered on climate justice, emphasized the need for youth and communities of color to be more engaged with the process and the proposed solutions – it’s very worth clicking on the link to read in full. Email your comments to mayorwheeler@portlandoregon.gov; chloe@portlandoregon.gov; JoAnn@portlandoregon.gov; Amanda@portlandoregon.gov.


June 30th will probably be your (our) best opportunity to influence Portland’s city government to be more effective on climate issues. As written, the Climate Emergency Declaration fails to meet the actual emergency. The City of Portland needs to spell out its annual decarbonization goals, with concrete action plans for 10% yearly reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.


Specific XRPDX critiques are as follows.


2050 is TOO LATE for net zero: Annual concrete actions steps for 10% decarbonization yearly are in line with the demands of the scientific community, which sets global goals of 7.6% annual decarbonization. Since we in the developed (industrialized) world are creating the vast majority of emissions, we must do more and faster. If the global goal is to be met, it will necessitate significant annual local actions of that magnitude and beyond before it is too late. Given that climate scientists consistently report accelerating and dire climate impacts, XRUS calls for 100% net-zero emissions reduction by 2025. (Note: “net zero” is a highly problematic concept, but we’ll leave that for another time.)


Annual reporting on progress: Interim emissions milestones and inventory reports every 4 years are not enough. These plans must include reporting annually on progress, which could take the form of a checklist on annual concrete action steps for decarbonization. Quarterly posting to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability about specific action items would also be helpful.


Electrification of mass transit: This major issue is ignored. It is tied to frontline communities’ health as well as to greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Trimet must enact an immediate moratorium on the purchase of additional diesel buses and develop a clear transition plan to get to full electrification of public transit. Also on buses: we demand free or deeply discounted public transit for low income, elderly, and disabled riders – not just free youth passes (which we also support).


Community control of electricity sources: This should be spelled out. Other communities have used this as a means to achieve their goals more quickly, and to create funds to meet other climate and renewables goals. The existing utilities have little to no incentive to get rid of electricity generated from coal-fired plants.


Fossil fuel issues: Beyond simply preventing expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in Portland, we demand shrinking and eventually removing the existing fossil fuel infrastructure from a liquefaction zone between Forest Park and the Willamette River. In the interim: address storage, transport, and export issues with specific goals relating to public safety and health. We oppose, without condition, the widening of the I-5 freeway through NE Portland.

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