Multnomah County and the City of Portland have released a final report on the 2015 Climate Action Plan. The report documents both the successes and challenges of implementing the plan and provides a snapshot of the implementation status of each action identified in the plan. The final report marks a new chapter, but not the end of the story, in climate planning for the two governments. The report also documents the next steps that are already underway and lessons learned that will be carried forward into the next iteration of climate action planning.
In 2015 Multnomah County and the City of Portland released a Climate Action Plan. The 2015 Climate Action Plan identified over 247 actions to be completed or significantly underway by the end of 2020. Nearly all the actions in the 2015 Climate Action Plan are underway, with 77% of the identified actions completed or on track to be completed by the end of 2020. This highlights the deep integration of the 2015 Climate Action Plan into the priorities and programs of each organization.
Those actions were broadly aimed at reducing local carbon emissions and better prepare the community for the impacts of climate change. Total local carbon emissions have decreased to 19% below 1990 levels and per person, emissions have decreased by 42% (based on 2018 data).
Events of the past five years have also brought into focus the impacts of the climate crisis. Those impacts can already be felt in Multnomah County. From the Eagle Creek Fire that threatened homes and blanketed the region in choking smoke to extreme weather like heat waves and severe winter storms, the impacts of a warming climate have arrived and are poised to worsen according to climate models and current global emission trends.
It has also become clear that the impacts of the climate crisis are falling first and worst on communities of color and low-income communities. Factors linked to institutional racism, like housing with inadequate insulation and heating and cooling capacity, neighborhoods with little access to the benefits of trees and parks, and a lack of access to healthcare, are exacerbated by the climate crisis. That is why future iterations of climate planning will go beyond a focus on equity, to have a more explicit focus on climate justice and centering the voices of front line communities.