Testimony at City of Portland Budget Hearing

The City has added funding for Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staffing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and involve the public in the climate policy process. This is a positive first step, but the scale of action needs to go well beyond what is proposed. 

Given this year’s budget surplus, the newly funded Chief Sustainability Officer position should be upgraded to a Climate Emergency Director with real powers to create a comprehensive response. We encourage the City to look at the process recommendations of your employees’ PEACE plan for accountable yearly actions with deliverable outcomes, including a strong Climate Emergency Response Plan and a Climate Emergency Commission. This Commission can work collaboratively with a network of Bureau climate emergency managers, climate experts and concerned citizens to review quarterly progress.  

Following the latest IPCC Report, “Mitigation of Climate Change,” the City of Portland mobilization process needs to aim for 10% annual emission reductions in the built environment, transportation, and the urban forest and wetlands.  

We recommend bold actions after the last 2 years of little to no climate change response policies. These actions include:

  • adopting building codes so that new buildings are carbon neutral by 2025
  • a ban on methane (so-called “natural” gas) appliances and heating in new construction
  • an accelerated retrofit transition to electrical heat pumps for low income families
  • carbon pricing
  • a moratorium on purchases of the City’s fossil-fueled light-duty vehicles
  • electrified mass transit
  • congestion pricing instead of freeway expansions

We in Extinction Rebellion also urge stronger carbon sequestration efforts in Portland’s remarkable natural environment, preserving giant trees and enhancing green spaces and blue wetland sequestration areas. 

The time to act is now and we implore the City to seriously meet the IPCC requirements. Greenhouse gas emissions must peak no later than 2025 and be halved by 2030. Portland, with its “green” reputation, must have the leadership and political will to accomplish these necessary climate goals. 

[Note: Telling the truth about the urgent need for City climate policies is part of Extinction Rebellion’s First Demand. A shorter version of this statement was presented by Janet Weil at City Council hearing on the budget on May 11, 2022. Photo credit: Janet Weil]


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