climate emergency declaration
Catie Gould is Co-Chair of Bike Loud PDX and a regular BikePortland contributor. She last wrote about Portland’s housing policy.
Every Thursday for the last few months, I’ve been attending a small meeting in a back room of the Central Lutheran Church. Sipping tea around a table decorated with fall leaves, I took turns sharing with strangers how I feel about the climate crisis. The ten week program was put together by the Good Grief Network, which is sprouting chapters all over the world.
The support group couldn’t have come at a better time for me. In October I took a trip to Washington DC to visit my brother. At the Museum of Natural History, I was struck by a small sign. It read that the atmosphere was changing faster now than any other mass extinction event in history. I stood there for several minutes, looking at the sign then back at all the other people in the exhibit hall walking past unaware. The science of climate change was not new to me, but this little sign rocked me, and sent me into a cycle of despair. My grief manifested as a shadowy doom that followed me around. It tapped me repeatedly on the shoulder and whispered ‘“mass extinction” in my ear. For nearly a month every transportation meeting I attended left me in tears, often not waiting until I was back home. No one was acting with the urgency that was needed.
For others who might be struggling, I wanted to share some of what I learned over the last few months.[Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
Yesterday Portland released an update on local carbon emissions. The results are troubling. With demonstrations planned tomorrow as part of the Global Climate Strike, I anticipate City Hall will put out a statement supporting the event and use the occasion to reaffirm Portland’s “commitment to climate change”.
But just how committed are we? I’d say not very if you look at how little priority we’ve given to tracking our progress thus far.
In case you haven’t heard, this Friday (9/20) is the big Climate Strike in Portland and around the world. Inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and other youth organizers, the event aims to get people to stop talking about climate change and start taking action.
Friday’s event will kickoff with a rally at City Hall followed by a festival on the east side of the river in a lot just south of OMSI. We expect a huge turnout with many cycling activists taking part as there’s (not surprisingly) a ton of overlap between people who fight for transportation reform and those who fight for the environment.