Oregon Climate Action Plan: 2021 Progress Report
Citing a scientific, economic and moral imperative, Governor Brown signed executive order 20-04 — dubbed by advocates as the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP) — in March 2020. OCAP establishes important new greenhouse gas reduction targets and directs 16 different state agencies to help achieve those goals 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 all 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 tip of the iceberg. Strong, effective implementation of these directives is key to achieving our climate and equity goals and avoiding the most catastrophic climate impacts. That’s why OEC and our partners came together to form a vibrant coalition 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 public testimony, formal comment letters, 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 mandatory 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.
Recognizing the need to celebrate and reflect on the past year of implementation, the OCAP coalition today released a progress report, digging into what’s going well, what’s not, and where there are opportunities to make progress in the coming year on climate, equity, and public engagement under OCAP. The report identifies specific shortcomings and strengths for each major body of OCAP work: transportation, cap and reduce, clean buildings, clean energy, natural and working lands, and public health.
The 2021 OCAP Progress Report provides a holistic review of OCAP implementation so far, highlighting instances where agency rulemaking processes and decisions demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing climate, equity and incorporating public engagement, as well as those processes or decisions where agencies have fallen short.
For example, in the transportation space — an area that OEC plays a leadership role in OCAP advocacy — the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has not demonstrated a willingness to make investment and policy decisions that fully prioritize climate and equity outcomes in funding and policy decisions, thereby limiting opportunities for emissions reductions from Oregon’s largest polluting sector. At the same time, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) successfully completed a rulemaking to accelerate transportation electrification through the Clean Fuels Program.
Recognizing there is a significant amount of OCAP implementation work remaining that will help determine whether the state lives up to its climate mandates, the 2021 OCAP Progress Report also identifies a number of key decision points and opportunities for progress in the coming year and beyond, including:
- Maximizing climate and equity outcomes under DEQ’s Climate Protection Plan through strong, early emissions reductions targets and no exemptions for polluters.
- Advancing strong standards to protect frontline workers from wildfire smoke and excessive heat;
- Prioritizing equity and climate in major transportation funding decisions.
You can read more about opportunities for progress in the full report and corresponding coalition press release.
OEC and our partners will continue to engage at every step of the OCAP implementation process, working to ensure the strongest possible outcomes for our climate, our communities, and our economy. 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.
We are at an inflection point: Oregon cannot risk falling short on our climate goals — and we have the opportunity to reach them, through strong OCAP implementation.
In the coming year, our state agencies will be faced with climate-equity decisions that will have a profound effect on Oregon’s future. The choice to take action toward a future that is cleaner, healthier, more equitable, and more efficient will be on the table again and again. OEC and our partners will continue to show up and hold decision-makers to account.
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