Portland has come to realise a need to diversify and broaden its stakeholder engagement beyond familiar environmental organisations to community groups, especially those focusing on reducing disparities and providing opportunities for ethnic minorities and low-income households. The public have raised concerns over the region’s role in the export of fossil fuel coming from western U.S and Canada, and Portland is adapting its actions to address this concern, as well as the influence that residents and business have over emissions elsewhere through procurement of goods. Portland must continue to sustain the momentum of its long term climate change responses.
As of 2014, Portland’s total emissions have declined by 21% compared to 1990 levels, representing a 41% reduction per person. The city is on track to have 20% of its sedan fleet converted to electric by the end of 2016, with over 1,600 electric vehicles registered in Multnomah County, where Portland sits. The city government has negotiated the closure of Portland General Electric’s coal-fired power plant, the only one in Oregon, by 2020 at the latest. The plant emits about 4 million tons of greenhouse gases a year and another 25,500 tons of pollutants, primarily sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Additionally, the city has partnered with Portland State University to place 10 interns at equity-orientated organisations to advance implementation of CAP programs and ensure that an equity focus is retained.
The city has surpassed its 30MW target for installed solar capacity with over 40MW of installed photovoltaic capacity in the city. Portland’s clean technology sector has grown faster than the local economy, providing more than 12,000 local jobs. Job growth within the sector equates to 25%, compared to 2% of total local job growth. Action on transportation has resulted in biodiesel, a significantly lower emission fuel than diesel, displacing the use of 5.6 million gallons of diesel fuel every year in Multnomah County.
The overarching goal of Portland's 2015 Climate Action Plan is to deliver an integrated set of strategies by 2020 to keep Portland on a path to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The proportion of citizens travelling primarily by public transport, cycling or walking is expected to rise to 50%, and the number of electric vehicles is set to increase four-fold to 8,000. The CAP aims to reduce energy use in existing buildings by 1.7% annually, resulting in an annual GHG emissions reduction of 280,000 metric tonnes in 2020.
The project also addresses climate preparedness and intends to reduce the risks associated with hotter, drier summers and warmer winters. Furthermore, actions resulting from the CAP will tackle housing affordability, reduce disparities in opportunities across communities, strengthen community cohesions and build relationships between equity and environmental advocates and actors.