Over the past decade, cities have become the epicenter of climate action. From recent events, such as Mayor Hales championing Portland’s 2015 Climate Action Plan on the global stage to our long-term focus on local climate action in every sector, Portland residents, businesses and government are making a difference.
We are thrilled to report that Portland is on its way to achieve the 80 percent carbon reduction goal established in 2009. Since the early 1990s, the City has set ambitious goals and taken steadfast action, and finally our hard work is paying off.
The results speak for themselves: Since 1990, Portland has reduced carbon emissions by 21 percent, while increasing population by more than 30 percent and total jobs by more than 20 percent. On a per-person basis, that’s equal to 40 percent less carbon pollution for every Portlander.
It’s fantastic to see this progress in every sector of the economy. For example:
- Low-carbon transportation makes a huge difference. Gasoline sales are down seven percent, even with the 33 percent increase in population since 1990. This is the result of more Portlanders using public transit, walking or biking, driving shorter distances, driving more efficient vehicles, and using lower-carbon fuels including biodiesel and electric vehicles.
- Energy efficiency saves money and reduces carbon emissions. As a result of energy efficiency investments, residential energy use has declined nearly 10 percent below 1990 levels, even as our homes have gotten larger.
- Citywide recycling and composting works. Since 1990, emissions from Portland’s land-filled waste has decreased by 82 percent — thanks to residential and commercial recycling and composting, coupled with methane capture at the landfills.
- Portland City government is walking the talk. Through energy efficiency projects, the City now saves more than $6 million annually on City government electricity and natural gas bills.
- More of our electricity is generated from lower-carbon sources, such as wind, solar, hydro and natural gas.
- More complete neighborhoods mean less energy use per person.By increasing the number of people who have access to wonderful, walkable neighborhoods with restaurants, stores, parks, libraries, grocery stores, breweries, schools and more, people are able to drive less, and walk and bike more. This means lower transportation costs and lower carbon emissions.
So what’s next for Portland?
Portland is significantly ahead of the national trend, but we have a way to go to meet our target to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. Nationally, total carbon emissions have actually increased by about 8 percent since 1990, while Portland total emissions have been reduced by 21 percent. So we are absolutely heading in the right direction, while growing a prosperous, healthy and more equitable community.
Recent actions indicate we can reach our goals by continuing to take action:
- Walk, bike and take transit.
- Drive more fuel-efficient or electric cars.
- Compost and recycle, and buy durable goods that last.
- Invest in solar on our homes or community solar projects.
- Shift more utility power generation from coal to renewable energy sources, as required by new Oregon state law.
- Insulate our homes and replace aging heating and cooling equipment.
- Improve lighting, HVAC and other systems at local stores and office buildings, and in schools and public buildings.
- Make cost-effective energy efficiency investments in industrial businesses.
- Plant trees. They sequester carbon and shade our homes and buildings.
These actions can help reduce your carbon footprint and often can improve your health or save you money. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/climate.
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability