To City of Portland Commissioners
A new city budget is coming around the corner, on the heels of a dire IPCC report. Portland, like most of the world, has not done enough to fight climate change, and we have no time to wait in enacting bold climate policy. The City of Portland is positioned to be a climate leader, and yet, we are the 26th worst city in the nation in CO2 emissions according to Global Gridded Model of Carbon Footprints GGMCF models.
We in Extinction Rebellion call upon the City of Portland to immediately commit to the following:
- Hire a Climate Emergency Director with powers to shape a comprehensive Climate Emergency Response that defines concrete annual steps to reduce GHG emissions by 10% yearly.
- Implement and adopt a buildings code that mandates all new buildings to be carbon neutral starting no later than 2025, and commit to at least a 10% annual GHG reduction for existing commercial and multi-family units as new Build Shift policies are developed. Other peer cities are doing this and we can too! This must be done affordably: new building projects over 3 units should, in our recommendation, reserve at least 1/3 as affordable units. We must also institute an accelerated retrofit transition to electrical heat pumps to address heating and cooling for low income families as Seattle, Washington DC, and LA have done (in partnership with utilities and/or PCEF).
- Pressure utilities to transition their entire energy markets to 100% true renewable energy (not gas or nuclear) as quickly as possible. Commit to funding community-controlled renewable energy options if PGE/Pacificorp do not clean up their entire energy grid. Begin a managed transition of closing down the CEI Hub. Strengthen fossil fuel export language in the comprehensive plan to ensure Zenith and others cannot operate export facilities. Start branch pruning whenever feasible such as decommissioning the leaking LNG tank and encouraging NW Natural to consider geothermal districts (see Geogrid pilot project) or use heat pump conversions to cover that reduction.
- Reduce use of fossil fuel vehicle miles traveled [VMT] by 10% per year and issue an immediate moratorium on purchases of city-owned fossil fuel light duty vehicles. Fossil fuel VMT could be reduced through a combination of electrification and supporting infrastructure for electrification, expanding bike and pedestrian program options, providing education and support for car-free days, reducing costs and increasing efficiency of public transit, congestion pricing, alternatives to freeway expansion, and more. Pressure TriMet to issue their own moratorium on fossil fuel vehicles.
- Set aside at least $50K of proposed tree planting monies to maintain newly planted trees, and issue a moratorium on cutting healthy old giants in shade-deficient areas both in right–of-ways and on private property until a new protective tree code can be developed. This moratorium is especially important given restrictions on large form trees in right-of-ways in low income areas.
Without these policies, Portland will continue to lag behind the IPCC requirements to avoid the worst effects of climate change. We implore the City of Portland to not only meet the IPCC requirements, but to exceed them, through concrete policy laid out here and implemented by a future director with the power to coordinate city bureaus in an effective climate response. This is our opportunity to be climate leaders and save our children’s future. The time to act is now!
[Editor’s note: Members of Extinction Rebellion PDX presented these demands to the Portland, Oregon City Council. Meetings with staff and City Commissioners followed.]