Here in Oregon we enjoy the reputation of being environmentally-friendly, which is why this report might come as a surprise to some of us. A World Resources Institute report on climate pollution reduction over the last 15 years puts Oregon in the bottom 11 states in the nation. Our carbon emissions went down, but only by 6%, while half of the states reduced by at least 20%, and Maryland and New Hampshire reduced by 38%.
While this is partly because Oregon was already fairly low carbon, and therefore making major reductions was harder than in places that had more low hanging fruit, another reason is that politicians and corporations operating here have been able to ride our green reputation without backing it up with genuinely bold action. Similarly to how Mayor Ted Wheeler tries to hide behind Trump sending in federal troops to Portland, despite his own police force inflicting tear gas, “less-lethal munitions”, and racist policing on Portland residents, our politicians try to get by with tweaks and incremental changes to tackle our pollution problem while still claiming to be climate champions.
Our neighboring state, California, recorded the hottest temperature on the planet in recorded history this week, 130F, and wildfires are springing up around our state. Climate change isn’t a faraway concept for Oregonians, it’s at our doorstep, and the the causes of climate change are at our doorstep too. New fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Jordan Cove fracked gas pipeline, the Kalama methanol refinery, and the I-5 freeway expansion threaten to send us backwards. And efforts to win a Green New Deal at the city and state level are fought at every step by our politicians and business lobby groups.
We have to turn up the heat. We need to fight for a just recovery from this pandemic that will rebuild our society as just, equitable, and carbon-free. Over the rest of this year, and in 2021, we will be fighting for this Green New Deal in Portland and for all of Oregon. But we need your help. The economic crisis means this is a tough year for fundraising. Will you contribute to our summer appeal so that we can continue the fight for a just and livable future?