Climate-Friendly Communities Don’t Magically Appear

Oregon Environmental Council and 1000 Friends of Oregon have a long history of partnership, especially working together to advance compact community design with a myriad of reliable alternatives to driving. When people live close to their daily destinations and have lots of transportation options, we can significantly curb climate pollution from everyday travel.

And the good news is that climate-friendly communities have lots of other benefits: the air is cleaner, the costs of getting around are lower, it’s easier to get exercise by walking and biking, they are cheaper to build and maintain, and–because they use less space–precious farm and forest lands are protected from sprawl.

But these types of communities don’t magically appear. The powers that be must re-orient transportation and land use plans toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), rather than ignoring the reality of climate change. Elected officials and government bodies at every level must provide affordable, reliable transportation options that safely move people and goods, rather than focusing on speedily moving cars and trucks, and assuming that everyone has access to a car. 

Recognizing the critical need to change the planning mindset and to direct Oregon’s population boom in a sustainable way, 1000 Friends and OEC worked to influence the Jobs & Transportation Action of 2009. That legislation and a subsequent bill in 2010 (Senate Bill 1059) set the state on the right path by: 

  • Requiring the Department of Land Conservation and Development to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from car travel in Oregon’s major metropolitan areas; 
  • Requiring the state’s largest metropolitan area (Metro) to develop and adopt a land use and transportation scenario that reduces GHGs over time; and
  • Requiring ODOT to develop a Statewide Transportation Strategy to achieve necessary GHG reductions from transportation, and to provide tools and resources to help communities across the state make climate-friendly choices.

While the agencies may have “checked the box” for all of the above, implementation has been lackluster, and Oregon is failing to reduce transportation-related GHGs. A decade ago, transportation accounted for just over one-third of Oregon’s GHG emissions; it now accounts for nearly 40%. As reported by ODOT’s staff in May of 2018 (see chart below), the state will reduce transportation emissions by only 20% by 2050 under the current trajectory, a far cry from the state’s adopted GHG reduction goal of a 75% reduction in total emissions across all sectors by 2050. 

We know it’s possible to reduce VMT. We know it’s possible to electrify the remaining necessary car and truck trips. And we can see where taking those goals seriously can make a difference. In the Portland region, where transportation and land use planning integrate climate goals (see Metro’s Climate Smart Strategy), per person daily vehicle miles travelled (VMT) have remained relatively flat across the Portland region since 2010. More Portlanders are on the road driving, but they aren’t driving longer distances.

But we aren’t making the progress we need to make fast enough.

That’s why 1000 Friends and OEC are working to get the state back on track. We are pleased that Governor Kate Brown recently directed ODOT, the Department of Land Conservation and Development, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Department of Energy, and their respective commissions to implement the Statewide Transportation Strategy (which, due in large part to our prodding, was finally formally adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission in 2018) and to reinvigorate metropolitan area transportation planning to meet GHG reduction targets. See Governor Brown’s letter here.

OEC and 1000 Friends will continue to be there. We are watchdogging agency progress and asking ODOT’s soon-to-be new director, Kris Strickler, to make combating climate change front and center to ODOT’s operations. We are committed to creating vibrant, climate-friendly communities where families can save a bundle by not needing to own a car, where safe bicycling and walking opportunities help people live more healthy lives, where infrastructure costs are lower, and where the air is cleaner.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured People OEC Staff Policy Climate Protection Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Job Opportunities Eco-Healthy Homes Toxics-Free Environments Air Quality Toxic Free Priorities Environmental Health
Sort by
sam pape at age 10 standing on a ledge in front of a large blue lake with cloudy blue sky and mountain range in background

Greetings from a Recovering Climate Pessimist

Dear fellow friends of Oregon, My name is Sam Pape. Nice to meet you! I’m the new Communications and Marketing Coordinator at OEC. I started in an interim role back in February, and was thrilled to recently accept a permanent, full-time position. In other words: I’m here to stay!
May 20, 2024, 11:30 am
samp

9

oregon mountain cloaked in clouds with pink hue from sunset

Speak Up For the Climate Protection Program (CPP)!

Last December, the oil and gas industry and their allies delivered a devastating blow to climate justice in our state.  The Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated Oregon’s landmark
May 7, 2024, 9:41 am
noraaoeconline-org

9

Climate Program Director

April 16, 2024, 4:09 pm
mcadmin

9

Building Climate Resilience with Better Buildings

Gazing at the downtown skyline of Portland? Rushing through PDX to catch a flight? Lost in the Silicon Forest? You probably aren’t thinking about how to reduce climate emissions. But Oregon’s large office, high-tech and public buildings are one of Oregon’s best opportunities to meet our climate goals by addressing our second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because the overall “carbon footprint” of
April 8, 2024, 4:36 pm
kevink

9

Broad coalition backs Governor and DEQ’s commitment to rapidly restore cornerstone Climate Protection Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 22, 2024 MEDIA CONTACT: Nora Apter, Oregon Environmental Council noraa@oeconline.org |
January 22, 2024, 11:22 am
mcadmin

9

Nora Apter, senior program director for climate at the Oregon Environmental Council speaking at the pro-CPP Rally in Salem on September, 29, 2023.

Voices of Support: Defending Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

On September 29, 2023, OEC gathered with a growing coalition of community-based organizations, lawmakers, and business groups following oral arguments heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals to rally behind the Oregon Climate Protection Program (CPP), which is under attack from the fossil fuel industry. OREGON’S CLIMATE PROTECTION PROGRAM Oregon’s Climate Protection Program (CPP) is a cornerstone in our st
October 23, 2023, 1:43 pm
mcadmin

9

Windmills over green terrain

Climate Win! Oregon Lawmakers Take Powerful Action Passing the ‘Climate Resilience Package’

Oregon’s 2023 Legislative Session ended with a momentous victory in the fight against climate change with the passage of the bipartisan Climate Resilience Package (HB 3409 & HB 3630). With over $90 million in funding and strategic leveraging of federal investments, this victory represents significant progress in our relentless pursuit of a climate-resilient future for Oregon.
June 29, 2023, 11:13 am
noraaoeconline-org

9

A farmworker carries berries in a field

The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work: Another Victory for Worker Safety in a Warming Climate

Oregon has taken resolute action in protecting workers from dangerous conditions caused by the worsening climate crisis. On June 7, 2023, Governor Tina Kotek signed into law Senate Bill 907, the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work. This law builds a past victory for worker safety achieved by the OEC and coalition partners in implementing permanent heat and smoke rules, fortifying our state’s commitment to shielding workers from the dangers of an increasingly volatile  cl
June 27, 2023, 2:32 pm
jamie-pang

9

Oregon Health Authority Report Finds Devastating Public Health Impacts from Climate Change in Oregon, Underscoring Urgent Need for Legislative Action to Pass the Climate Resilience Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 22, 2023 Media Contact Kat Driessen, kat@empirical.media PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority today released a comprehensive report on the public health impacts of climate change in Oregon. The “2021-2022 Climate and Health in Oregon Rep
June 22, 2023, 11:00 am
mcadmin

9

View over a pacific northwest valley with grass and trees in the background under blue sky

Natural Lands, Natural Climate Solutions

Oregon’s farms, forests, urban parks, wetlands, and other natural lands shape our state’s landscape and economy and are an essential source of life-sustaining resources. OEC is part of a coalition working to protect these lands from climate extremes and harness their potential as a climate solution.
February 15, 2023, 9:19 pm
noraaoeconline-org

9


No Replies to "Climate-Friendly Communities Don’t Magically Appear"