Last week, XRPDX member Tri Sanger testified to the Portland City Council regarding the Climate Emergency Declaration. Here are their comments.
My name is Tri Sanger and I’m testifying on behalf of Extinction Rebellion PDX. I use they/them pronouns. This Climate Emergency Declaration is groundbreaking in providing a framework for our local government to work in conjunction with community organizations, with BIPOC and youth led groups taking the lead, to tackle one of the most significant global challenges facing us.
However, as a young person whose life and generation will be heavily impacted, I am deeply concerned that to declare an “Emergency” and then set a 2050 goal for problematic net-zero emissions is an outrage. Net zero still allows for pollution offsets and 2050 is far too late! The City needs to start today in this document to ensure that there are annual concrete action steps towards carbon emission reductions in the range of 10% each year. We stand with the Portland Youth Climate Council and their proposed goal of 2035.
If the COVID crisis has shown us anything, it is that when there is clear evidence of lethal threats, early bold actions save lives and decrease the human and socioeconomic costs. We must follow the science. Each new report shows climate chaos escalating at rates far faster than anticipated. Now there is little hope of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would result in the early death of millions. It is quite possible we are on a path towards a rise of 5 degrees Celsius, instead of the 3 degrees originally feared. Arctic warming is proceeding at twice the global warming average and just last week it was over 100 degrees in the Arctic Circle. Scientists say that one of the tipping point indicators, the Blue Ocean Event, or the complete absence of Arctic ice, is likely to occur by the end of this year or next and there are plenty of feedback loops that have not even begun to operate. We need to act now.
This Declaration is stronger on process than on substance. We need more concrete decarbonization strategic steps that will act faster, with annual accountability measures.
For example, the City must demand an immediate moratorium on TriMet’s purchase of diesel transit buses and a zero emissions vehicle transition plan put into place regionally both for health and environmental concerns. Expanding free transit to other vulnerable and low-income populations beyond youth could shrink our reliance on single occupancy vehicles. Community control of electricity sources can create funds to meet other climate justice goals as has been done in several cities in California and across the country. There need to be concrete steps in shrinking fossil fuel infrastructures, particularly from the current HUB in a liquefaction area.
The City needs to act more boldly on decarbonization and Extinction Rebellion hopes to work with you and other community groups to identify and implement concrete steps quickly.