Celebrating Year 1 of the Oregon Climate Action Plan
March 2020 will forever be remembered as the month when businesses shuttered, toilet paper aisles were barren across America, and hand sanitizer stock prices skyrocketed. For Oregonians and climate advocates everywhere, it should also be remembered and celebrated as the month Oregon took historic climate action.
Just days before Oregon shut down, on March 10, 2020, Oregon youth and coalition partners from across the state came together to applaud Governor Brown in taking historic executive action on climate. Dubbed the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP) by supporters, Executive Order 20-04 was the culmination of years of collective advocacy on behalf of a broad coalition of businesses, non-profits, community organizations, and individual Oregonians working to make Oregon a leader in the fight against climate change.
Citing a scientific, economic and moral imperative, OCAP directed 16 different state agencies to help achieve meaningful greenhouse gas reduction targets by prioritizing climate change in state decision-making and adopting new programs to reduce emissions across Oregon’s top polluting sectors. In doing so, OCAP provides the opportunity to ensure that Oregonians benefit from clean air, a competitive economy, healthier communities and a stable climate.
While the executive order itself is worth celebrating, the signing of OCAP was just the beginning. Strong, effective implementation of these directives is key to achieving our climate goals and avoiding the most catastrophic climate impacts. That’s why OEC and our partners came together to form a vibrant coalition to show up for OCAP with a mission to maximize emissions reductions, center the needs of frontline communities, and ensure an equitable transition to a clean energy future.
OEC and our partners in the OCAP coalition have advocated tirelessly over the past year through countless comment letters, public testimony, and meetings with agency staff to secure outcomes that:
- Ensure Oregon reduces greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the best available science by meeting and exceeding its climate pollution reduction targets;
- Support healthier communities and advance protections for frontline workers; and
- Prioritize benefits and alleviate burdens for BIPOC, low-income, rural and other communities disproportionately burdened by air pollution and climate change.
Despite the many crises of the past year, Oregon’s state agencies, boards and commissions have completed an impressive amount of work to move forward in implementing their directives under OCAP. Several agencies established new climate offices focused on overseeing climate work. Multiple agencies have already completed rulemakings, including to increase appliance energy efficiency standards and advance transportation electrification. And many more agency processes are either currently underway or in the process of kicking off.
However, there are also many areas where the agencies have fallen short in their implementation as it relates to equity, climate and/or public engagement.
In the coming year, Oregon’s state agencies will be faced with climate-equity decisions that will have a profound effect on Oregon’s future. With less than a decade remaining to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half and avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate impacts, the urgency of the climate crisis has never been more stark, and the extreme cost of climate inaction has never been clearer. Oregon cannot risk falling short on our climate goals.
OEC and our partners will continue to engage every step of the way, working to ensure the strongest possible outcomes for our climate, our communities and our economy through strong OCAP implementation.
Subscribe to our Action Alert Network for future updates on the OCAP implementation process and how to make your voice heard.