Climate Villain: Portland Business Alliance

Thank you all for marching today. We’re here to do our part in creating systemic changes that can keep us from running off of this cliff that is climate catastrophe. It feels good to be out here and using our voices for the better, right?

Well, we’re at the headquarters of the Portland Business Alliance (PBA). And the PBA use their voices too – to lobby the City of Portland to go backwards on climate policy. They want to make a few executives rich, and are willing to throw our whole planet off of that cliff in doing so.

In 2018 the PBA opposed perhaps the most monumental climate policy that Portland has ever enacted – the Portland Clean Energy Fund. This fund, which is dedicated to clean energy projects that improve the lives of our low income and BIPOC community members, is generated by a mere 1% tax on the largest Portland retailers. This fund just issued 10 million dollars worth of grants to provide electric heat pumps to low income households. Electric heat pumps not only mean switching off of natural gas, they can also be used as AC systems. Remember how our unprecedented heat dome last summer killed hundreds of vulnerable people? Well that word “unprecedented” just isn’t as meaningful these days, is it? The Portland Clean Energy Fund is proving itself as a crucial step in delivering climate justice in a critical moment.

What does PBA think about this? Believe it or not, they’re calling on the city to freeze these funds. They don’t seem to be able to recognize good policy when it’s staring them in the face.

We are here to remind the Portland Business Alliance that we will not let them operate a campaign of climate destruction, to undermine climate justice. To their member corporations, we say, leave. To their board, we say, change your policy. To our city council members, we say, don’t listen to climate villains.

The PBA has failed itself, because they’ve forgotten two things. One, they forgot we will keep coming! Their obstruction to change will not go unnoticed and will not go unopposed. And two, they forgot the science. If they really do only care about profits, then they’re on the wrong path, because there are no profits on a dead planet.

[Mike Fairhurst read his speech at the Climate Strike March in front of Portland Business Alliance headquarters in downtown Portland, Oregon, on May 20, 2022. PBA was identified by the youth climate organizers as one of four Climate Villains to oppose, including Zenith Energy, Northwest Natural, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.]


Youth, Power, and Collective Action: The Youth Climate Strike

Zenith Energy: A Timeline of Deception and Expansion