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Mayor Wheeler wants your feedback on his ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration

Posted by on February 13th, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Time to make some hard choices about “fossil fuel infrastructure.”
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler released a draft version of his Climate Emergency Declaration (PDF) yesterday. The document sets new goals for carbon emission reduction and it issues a call-to-arms for actions to address climate change impacts with an emphasis on a just transition for “frontline communities” (which are defined as, “Black and Indigenous people, communities of color”.)

Wheeler’s cover letter to the official declaration takes on an urgent tone: “We must make the right decisions now to bend the curve to protect our communities and save our planet,” he writes. “2020 is our year for putting the policies, strategies and actions in place that will aggressively reduce our carbon emissions.”

The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in our region and Wheeler’s declaration mentions transportation-related policies several times. Later today, Wheeler and his council colleagues will consider the Rose Lane Project, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s plan to allocate more road space to transit vehicles which in many ways perfectly embodies the type of actions he calls for in the declaration.

Beyond the transportation elements (see below), the declaration is notable for a new carbon emissions reduction target. Instead of an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 with an interim goal of 40% reduction by 2030, Wheeler wants to update Portland’s Climate Action Plan with a target of at least 50% reduction and net-zero emissions before 2050.

Here are the transportation-related parts of the 5-page declaration:

Whereas (section that sets the table for the issue)…

strategies and programs that keep frontline communities – including businesses and cultural institutions – from displacement is a significant climate change mitigation strategy. As displacement of frontline communities occurs, vehicle miles traveled increase as members seek to maintain their community or are forced to lose it altogether.

transportation emissions are increasing – currently eight percent over 1990 levels, and 14% over their lowest levels in 2012 – and Portland has experienced year-over-year increases in transportation emissions for the past five years, with transportation emissions growing faster than population growth over the same period; and

Therefore, let it be resolved (the declaration section that says what we will do about it)…

Portland will involve youth in the development of a proposed climate test – such as a carbon fee or an internal price on carbon – to ensure City bureaus are making informed climate-friendly decisions, particularly for major capital investments and high-carbon-impact decisions, such as fuel and vehicle purchases; and…

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the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Portland Bureau of Transportation will identify where and how zoning changes and transportation investments to increase compact development can have the greatest impact on carbon reduction and equitable development outcomes overall…

Portland will adopt new policies and development standards to further prevent expansion of new fossil fuel infrastructure, reduce fossil fuel consumption and reduce risk to the community and environment…

Portland will prioritize and advance policies and investments to reduce carbon emissions from the building and transportation sectors – the two largest contributors to local carbon emissions – that put us on a path to reach net-zero carbon before 2050…

Portland will work with regional partners to develop and implement programs, projects and policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled, increase active transportation mode share, and accelerate the transition to clean, renewable transportation fuels, including electricity and the infrastructure to support electric vehicles, as well as work with TriMet to secure ongoing funding for a free youth transit pass…

Wheeler also said yesterday he’s directed all city bureaus to make climate change a key priority in their upcoming budget proposals.

He wants community feedback on the proposal no later than 5:00 pm on March 16th. You can submit your comments through the online comment form or call his office at 503-823-3579. The declaration will be available to read and staff will be on-hand to answer questions at the City’s Fix-It Fair event at Floyd Light Middle School on Saturday, February 29th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Wheeler plans to have the final resolution up for adoption by City Council on April 22, 2020 (Earth Day).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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The Last Voygeur
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The Last Voygeur

The most prudent thing to do would be to start funding construction of infrastructure to hold back and mitigate impacts of the rising sea.

9watts
Subscriber

“Portland will work with regional partners to develop and implement programs, projects and policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled.”

Let’s do it.

But that means no Rose Quarter expansion, no CRC zombie, no billions for the ODOT we have. An end to autos only investment. If Wheeler is/we are serious we need to put out money where our mouths are.

Skid
Guest
Skid

How about a HOUSING EMERGENCY declaration?

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Greenwashed racism.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

A lot of this sounds great, but it is all very future tense. What is the city doing *NOW* to change their practices and policies to reduce our contribution to climate change?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I’d like to see a tax on the 401k’s of the previous generation as a small thank you for passing the buck to our current emergency status in many aspects including but not limited to basic infrastructure upgrades, lack of housing, and the environment.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I have been feeling overwhelmed by the over-sized vehicles on our streets. I see this low-hanging fruit for the City to address Vision Zero, congestion, Climate goals, and maintenance goals: make people using larger vehicles pay more though 1) enforcing parking regulations about not parking large vehicles at intersections, 2) increase gas tax, 3)weight-based registration fees. I grant that it is small first step, but I think the results would be significant.

Hickeymad
Guest
Hickeymad

The inevitable inclusion of the social justice schtick reinforces the notion that democrats don’t believe their own rhetoric about climate.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

We don’t need the mayor to declare something that’s already happening. We need the mayor to do something about it.

Scott Kocher
Guest

I’d rather have no declaration at all than one that is symbolic and ineffectual. Instead of “involve youth,” “identify…changes” and “prioritize policies” we need to (1) stop all freeway expansions, (2) remove parked vehicles where they obstruct people from safely using the right-of-way for non-motorized travel, (3) remove or slow moving vehicles where their presence or speed endangers people using the right-of-way for non-motorized travel, and (4) implement video radar enforcement of speed and safety violations city-wide with fines proportional to income. Do these things and I’ll smile and nod with the other stuff that has no substance.

joel
Guest
joel

im all for the climate- but i am not allowed to speak against any plan or go to city hall as a business owner for fear of retribution- which i have already had.

im the only coffee roaster in the city not using plastic packaging- delivering by bicycle, and adopting a local first plan, and also using paper products from the us and canada.

retribution is why im afraid of city council. i cant give feedback. but i wish i could.

joel courier coffee.

q
Guest
q

Today, if you ask the City to act on a small climate-related issue like, say, getting a crosswalk installed so people can safety get to a bus stop, you’ll be measuring the response time in years–if you’re lucky enough to get any action at all.

If this declaration gets adopted, does anyone really expect any substantial change after the round of self-congratulatory fanfare?

Tad Reeves
Guest

If there’s anything I’d want to add to this declaration, it’s that Portland has a sort of implicit place in the USA as an example-setter for sustainable transportation which has an impact far in excess of just our own carbon emissions. We’re the 25th-largest city in the USA, there are plenty of other cities massively larger than us with massively-larger urban and industrial footprints. However, other cities do look to us to see if “we can do it”.

Just think of the thought processes of other larger cities like San Antonio or Austin: if they look at us and with our rep as a “cycling city” and inertia that goes with that, and if we can’t even get together the political will to change, they might say they can’t either – even if they won’t admit that as a justification.

We do have a mandate to show the rest of the country that it’s not only places like Oslo and Copenhagen that can organize around active transportation and de-prioritization of the automobile, and I’d love to see that recognized by the city.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Ted Wheeler campaigned on a pledged to address the homelessness crisis. Since his election, multiuse paths have been gobbled up by shanties. This climate emergency declaration is just a stunt

Adam
Guest
Adam

Reading Project Drawdown. Many of the solutions make sense even if we didn’t have a warming climate to contend with. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions

q
Guest
q

I was reading the comments here, and looked out my window to see two Park Rangers drive past in a huge new extended cab truck with a massive grill and high hood. Previously, they’ve been driving a compact car. It’s frustrating–as the mayor is sending out his draft declaration, the City has just bought one of the worst possible options for transportation for its employees. You’ll probably see them yourself soon parked in a bike lane near you, with the obligatory orange “Vision Zero” bumper sticker.

Chuck Wiese
Guest
Chuck Wiese

Quit lying about the climate, Ted. There is no climate emergence and all of the climate records in Oregon and elsewhere show us that the climate system remains well inside of established normals that go back over 100 years. The ice cores and geological records show the same thing.

It is scientifically impossible for any climate Bill in this city or state to have any effect on atmospheric CO2 concentration. Oregon’s entire yearly emissions are only .18% of global emissions.

Your bill and the states bill SB 1530 is a fraud being attempted on taxpayers which can accomplish NONE of the stated objectives.

Chuck Wiese
Meteorologist