Climate change | Ecotrope

Portland carbon emissions dip below 1990 level

Ecotrope | Dec. 1, 2010 4 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:44 p.m.

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Portland City Council received the Year One Progress Report on the city’s joint Climate Action Plan with Multnomah County today.

The report delivered some good news: Last year, the city’s carbon emissions actually dropped to 2 percent below 1990 levels while emissions nationwide are 7 percent above the 1990 baseline (as set by the Kyoto Protocol). Portland and Multnomah County emissions have dropped 15 percent since 2000, according to the report – even as the population has grown. Countywide emissions have fallen 20 percent per person 1990

Portland Mayor Sam Adams said only some of the city’s emissions reductions are tied to the Great Recession:

“We know the economic recession reduces carbon emissions, but the long-term trends are encouraging. And it’s especially encouraging that the same projects that reduce emissions are creating decent jobs. But it’s also clear that we have our work cut out for us if we are to get on track for our carbon reduction goals. We need to step up our efforts to drive down carbon emissions and really focus on doing so in ways that strengthen the local economy.”

The Climate Action Plan is a three-year plan to put Portland on a path to achieve a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Adopted in October 2009, the plan lists more than 100 specific actions to be completed by 2012, including:

  • building bicycle infrastructure
  • collecting food-scraps from homes for composting
  • weatherizing homes
  • planting trees, and
  • restoring natural areas.

The city reports a little more than half of the actions listed are on their way to completion, a third are underway, 10 percent have yet to be initiated, and 4 percent have been completed.

The city released the report today, highlighting these accomplishments:

  • Establishing Clean Energy Works Portland, a program to finance building energy efficiency and create quality jobs. The program improved the efficiency of more than 300 Portland homes in 2009 and also resulted in creating a new non-profit organization, Clean Energy Works Oregon, to expand the program statewide.
  • Accelerating the number of residential solar installations to nearly 400 systems in 2010, meeting Portland’s three-year goal in one year.
  • Construction of sidewalks, 15 miles of Neighborhood Greenways, and the east-side streetcar.
  • Completing a wide range of energy-efficiency projects in City facilities, and installing several large photovoltaic systems, including the Water Bureau’s 267-kilowatt system at the Columbia South Shore Well Field.
  • Planting more than 47,000 trees and 64,000 shrubs, and working to restore and revegetate thousands of acres.
  • Launching the “Be Resourceful: Get More of the Good Stuff” thoughtful consumption public outreach campaign.
  • Starting a pilot of a residential food-scrap collection program with 2,000 households.
  • Developing a new public outreach effort called Portland Climate Action Now! to help residents and businesses change their behavior in ways that reduce carbon emissions.

Major next steps include:

  • Completing the Portland Plan, the City’s strategic plan to create a prosperous, healthy, opportunity-filled community that thrives while producing less carbon emissions.
  • Developing policy options for improving the performance of existing commercial buildings.
  • Preparing an assessment of climate-related vulnerabilities, strengths and resiliency of Portland in the face of a changing climate (e.g. food, water and energy supplies, infrastructure, transportation, floodplains, public health, emergency preparedness, etc.).
  • Developing the tools needed to analyze and evaluate expected carbon emissions from land use policies, investment decisions and scenarios.

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