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Portland Leaders Announce New Climate Action Proposals

By Monica Samayoa (OPB)
Dec. 14, 2019 12:45 a.m.

Portland’s mayor and other leaders revealed new climate policy commitments Friday, that represent their next steps in trying to respond to climate change.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, along with Portland General Electric CEO Maria Pope and TriMet’s General Manager Doug Kelsey, unveiled new proposals and policies that will put Portland on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next ten years.

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The goal is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Wheeler said he’s been working with local organizations and youth leaders in developing a community centered approach to address climate action.

“I would like to thank the youth of our region for working with the city to push for meaningful action. In Portland, we value what kind of future we want our children to experience,” Wheeler said.

Related: Student Activists Hold Another Youth Climate Strike In Downtown Portland

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The policy focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from city operations and transportation. One of the commitments is implementing a ‘climate test’ which is an internal price on carbon.

“It’ll ensure that city bureaus are making informed climate friendly decisions particularly for major capital investments and high carbon impact decisions such as fuel and vehicle purchases,” Wheeler said.

Other commitments include establishing a new policy that requires carbon offsets for any city staff related travel and implement a local carbon offset fund.

“It’s important to us that we not just invest in the carbon offset but that we invest those dollars locally,” Wheeler said.

Another major announcement came from TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey as the agency is converting the Max light rail transit (LRT) system to 100% wind power by February 2020.

“With our switch to wind power we’ll be the first united states transit agency, that we’re aware of to making low carbon LRT system better for the environment,” Kelsey said.

TriMet also will no longer purchase diesel fuel buses after 2025. Kelsey said by 2030, the agency will have at least 340 electric buses and will continue to look at other clean energy technology.

Wheeler thanked youth climate activists for their efforts in working with the city to implement change. On Dec. 6, youth climate activists gave a list of demands to Wheeler.

He said he wants to continue to work with the community the youth activists on declaring a climate emergency declaration, next year.

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