Bend is the latest city in Oregon to consider a plan to combat climate change.

Bend is the latest city in Oregon to consider a plan to combat climate change.

Jeff Barnard/AP

More than 130 people came to the Bend City Council chambers for Thursday’s meeting on a proposed climate change resolution.

The draft resolution sets goals for carbon emission reductions for City of Bend operations, kick-starts a process to develop community-wide emissions targets and outlines a path to develop a more specific climate plan with benchmarks and policies.

Bend is the latest city in Oregon to consider a plan to combat climate change. Portland and Eugene already have city-led climate change goals on the books, and the city of Ashland is currently working on a plan. Bend’s draft resolution references the snow-centered and recreation-based economy and emphasizes the need to leave a healthy environment for future generations.

Many at Thursday’s hearing testified in support of the ordinance.

“I grew up in this wonderful place, playing in the cold water of the Deschutes and running through the freshly fallen snow of the Cascades,” said a young man named Quinton McCoy. “Climate change could ruin all of this.” McCoy was flanked several other teenagers in support of his message as he spoke.

Several also spoke about the need for Bend’s leadership to take big steps and to create a policy with teeth.

“We do not need an empty statement declaring that we need to do something, but we don’t really know what, so we’ll let somebody else do it,” Sarah Holman, a research analyst with Oregon State University, said.

Bend Draft Climate Action Resolution

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Some speakers from the business community expressed cautious support at the idea of a climate change policy, but wanted more detail. “When I hear words like accountability, teeth, enforcement — this causes me great concern for our small businesses,” said Roger Lee with Economic Development for Central Oregon. “What does that mean?”

Katelyn Pay with the Central Oregon Builder’s Association expressed stern opposition to the climate resolution or ordinance.

“As of yet, no work has been done to determine this kind of program for Bend,” Pay said. “Where is the research in the findings? Where will this money come from?”

Councilman Doug Knight pointed out that the resolution calls for a cost benefit analysis to be developed alongside goals and targets.
While some speakers questioned the need for Bend to act as a municipality on a global issue, many spoke about climate change action as an ethical responsibility.

“Here we sit, safe, at 3,600 feet, debating whether we are taking too strong of measures,” said Shimiko Montgomery, pastor at a local church. “My hope in these conversations is that we be the community that I know we are—a caring group of people that values our environment and our more vulnerable global brothers and sisters.”  
More residents spoke in support of the resolution than against it. City councilors will take up the resolution at their next work session August 3.