“We are living in a climate emergency. It’s time for Portland to act like it.” That’s the lead quote from the city’s new Climate Emergency Workplan. (“Portland climate emergency plan lays out priorities to cut carbon emissions,” July 21.) So true! Unfortunately, the solutions in this plan are light on specifics, and sometimes just wrong, such as the reliance on biofuels. Until now, the city has done little other than talk about climate, and the $4 million pledged to climate-related items represents just .06% of the entire city budget.
The plan highlights the importance of trees, especially in low-income areas sorely lacking in tree canopy. Trees help slow climate change and cool neighborhoods. So why did the city break up with the Friends of Trees? (“With Portland’s canopy dwindling, city ends street tree-planting contract with Friends of Trees,” June 29.)
This beautiful partnership brought and kept more trees here with the help of communities. It has been replaced with programs that get fewer trees planted and maintained, with little or no community involvement. A few years ago the Portland Bureau of Transportation came to the Midway Business Association with nice models of the Outer Division Safety Project showing lots of trees being planted in the median on outer SE Division Street to address one of the worst heat islands in the city. Fast forward to today and the project is nearly done, with not a tree in sight. At a recent Midway meeting, we were told the Portland Water Bureau would not allow the trees to be planted there.
This climate workplan must be improved before the actual vote on August 24. Then make it happen, with funding and cooperation.
[This letter to the editor of the Oregonian was published on July 31, 2022.]