350 is a significant number when it comes to climate. In the words of Dr. James Hansen, one of the most respected climatologists in the world, “CO2 will need to be reduced from [current levels] to at most 350 ppm to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed.” The current level at which we’re pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is not feasible if we are to sustain a healthy and stable climate. And right now the ratio of carbon dioxide molecules to all other molecules in the atmosphere is 403 ppm,
well above Dr. Hansen’s benchmark of 350 ppm.
What does this mean exactly? It signifies we’re releasing too much carbon—millions of years worth of carbon into the atmosphere—and nearing a climate tipping point with irreversible impacts. We’re living in a significant time; we’re now witnessing the early impacts of climate change, but during a small window of time when we can still actually fix it.
How do we bring awareness to the urgent need for bringing that CO2 number back down to 350 ppm? In an effort to highlight the urgency of climate action, the Oregon Business Climate Declaration, a project of Northwest Businesses for Climate Action with Oregon Environmental Council and Climate Solutions, sought to increase the number of signatories to 350 to match that very significant number.
The response was overwhelming—so much so, that the list now includes 400 signatories in over 60 cities across Oregon (an instance when a 400+ climate number is very good!) Surpassing the goal of 350 signatories in such a short amount of time illustrates just how many Oregon businesses desire climate leadership and action in Oregon, calling for our state to be a leader in tackling this issue that threatens our very way of life.
Since the original release of the Oregon Business Climate Declaration —signed by 70 companies last July including Nike, Waste Management, the Portland Trailblazers, eBay, Moda Health and more —330 new businesses in over 60 cities across the state have joined the expanded list.
“We have an opportunity to build Oregon’s competitive advantage by leading in clean technologies and saving through efficiency,” said Robert Gootee, president and CEO of Moda Health. “We already have some of the best and brightest minds designing green buildings, developing smart urban planning, advancing clean fuels, practicing sustainable agriculture and so much more. Many of these are exportable goods and services that give our region an economic advantage —and set the standard for social responsibility.
The Oregon Business Climate Declaration states:“There is a clear and present need for action on climate to protect our region’s natural assets, its vibrant communities and its growing economy. We business leaders of the Pacific Northwest endorse the Climate Declaration because we support using energy efficiently, investing in cleaner fuels, advancing renewable energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Starting today, right here, the Pacific Northwest can lead the way. We can create a healthy climate and a strong, more resilient economy, by fostering innovation, advancing public health, spurring economic development through job creation and speeding technological advancement throughout our region.”
The Oregon Business Climate Declaration focuses on the economic opportunity in tackling climate change locally. Oregon’s billions of dollars in investments in renewable energy are creating jobs and tax dollars for critical services in rural and urban parts of the state. Many sign-on businesses embrace efficiency and clean energy in their own operations.
“Having a healthy environment is essential to the long term success of our business, which is why we’ve invested in renewable energy, alternative transportation options for our employees, and so much more,” said David Gremmels, President and Cheesemaker at Rogue Creamery. “Our customers and our employees love it, and it’s been great for our operating budget. Regardless of politics, it’s time we come together to cut carbon pollution in Oregon.”
Rogue Creamery already has a commitment to produce 100% of their own energy by 2021, with currently 45% of their energy powered by the sun.
Some of the new companies to sign the Oregon Business Climate Declaration include: