Portland, Oregon: Doin' It Right

Portland, Oregon’s Climate Action Plan is working – greenhouse gas emissions are now 6% below 1990 levels and down 26%
per person, even though population has grown 26% over that time.

Over the same period, US emissions rose 12%.

Portland and Mutnomah County released a 2-year progress report on their 3-year Climate Action Plan, which began in late 2009.

"The same sensibility that makes Portland livable – trees, greenways, walkable neighborhoods, streetcars, and solar – has helped reduce carbon emissions 26% per person since 1990," says the report.

Since 2009, over 1,000 homes have been weatherized, 1,400 homes and businesses have installed solar panels, 150,000 households compost food scraps at the curb, and the number of bicyclists has climbed 14%.

Emissions from homes are down 7% (26% per capita), and down 9% in commercial, industrial and multifamily sectors combined. At the same time, the number of jobs is up 12% since 1990.

Energy intensity is down 17% per capita reflecting consistent progress in improving energy efficiency in buildings and industrial processes – the city has some of the world’s greenest buildings. Check out its feebate program.

Over 15% of Portland residents pay a little extra to buy renewable energy from utilties, the highest participation rate among cities of its size.

Compared to 1990, transportation emissions are down 1% (22% per capita) and vehicle miles traveled are at 1984 levels. As of 2010, gasoline sales are just below 1990 levels.

Why the decline? Portland has increasingly complete and connected neighborhoods, says the report. Residents can more easily walk or bicycle to meet their daily needs. 10 miles of Neighborhood Greenways were added last year. Other reasons are low carbon fuels, better fuel efficiency of vehicles and regional transportation investments in light rail, bike routes and street cars.

"We’re making solid progress on our ambitious Climate Action Plan goals, in part because we’re creating a more connected city," says Sam Adams, Mayor of Portland. "Portlanders now have more low-carbon options to get to school and to work, more efficient ways to heat and power their homes and new ways to deal with household waste."

Portland and Mutnomah County’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Portland was the first US city to adopt a plan to reduce carbon emissions in 1993.

In 2001, Multnomah County joined the City of Portland to adopt a joint plan – it set a goal of reducing carbon emissions 10% below 1990 levels by 2010.

Recent developments will reduce Portland’s footprint further. Its new solar highway,

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