Portland - 2015 Climate Action Plan


Portland has systematically pursued carbon reduction since 1993. The 2015 plan builds on past work whilst seeking to address the challenges of: 

  • Broadening engagement to community groups that focus on reducing disparities and providing opportunities for people of colour and low-income households;
  • Sustaining momentum and responding to the mounting urgency of climate change; and
  • Recognising that Portland’s residents and businesses influence GHG emissions elsewhere by buying goods, and that those emissions rival the scale of emissions produced locally.


The new CAP: 

  • Adds a consumption-based inventory to recognise the full capability of the city to achieve carbon reductions even beyond the city’s boundaries. This analysis focuses city efforts on highest impact goods and services, and provides an analytical basis for supporting the expansion of sharing-economy business models;  
  • Elevates equity as a key outcome of climate action efforts and builds community capacity and engagement by involving equity-oriented organizations in implementing the plan; and
  • Integrates climate preparedness and carbon reduction. The plan incorporates key elements of Portland's 2014 Climate Change Preparation Strategy and prioritizes investments both in natural systems (tree canopy, green roofs, bioswales) and in future-proofed infrastructure.

Specific sector targets for the 5-year period: 

  • Increase the combined mode split for transit, bicycling and walking to at least 50%
  • Increase the number of electric vehicles 4x to 8,000.
  • Reduce energy use in existing buildings by 1.7% annually.
  • Close the only coal-fired power plant in Oregon, which serves most of Portland.
  • Double the installed solar capacity to 30 MW
  • Expand the urban forest canopy to cover at least 31% of the city, even whilst development intensifies in the urban area. 
  • Reduce impervious areas by 80 hectares (200 acres).
  • Increase total recovery of solid waste to 80%.

Projected Outcomes

Portland's 2015 Climate Action Plan pioneers a new emissions inventory methodology that complements conventional methodologies. This enables cities to recognise a fuller range of opportunities to drive down GHG emissions. It also helps focus attention on upstream opportunities that typically have much greater GHG impacts than end-of-life disposal options. 

As it addresses climate preparedness as well as GHG reduction activities, the plan is intended to reduce risks associated with the two major climate impacts Portland faces, which are hotter, drier summers, expected to produce drought, wildfire and more extreme heat days, and warmer winters, with the potential for more intense rain events, flooding and landslides. 

As a comprehensive climate plan, Portland's 2015 CAP is designed to achieve a wide range of co-benefits. The plan builds on Portland's recent experience in growing the clean technology sector at a much faster rate than the local economy as a whole, with more than 12,000 local jobs. It also reduces disparities in opportunity, access and outcomes for all residents. The plan also specifies actions to increase the urban forest and green infrastructure, keeping the city cooler and cleaning the air and water. Other actions prioritize reduction in diesel emissions.