How Higher Ed Research Is Helping Portland Meet Their Climate Goals
It’s one thing to make an ambitious climate pledge – it’s another to keep it. Portland, Oregon has made enormous progress on the climate front, reducing emissions and embracing renewable energy while still keeping their economy robust. But they still have a long way to go in order to meet their aggressive carbon reduction goal (80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050). As this GreenBiz article explains, city officials are looking to the local university for the research expertise they need to bridge the gap.
Portland State University houses the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, which helps solve complex societal issues. Their researchers are helping Portland address local urban challenges such as heat islands and flood management. Earlier this year, the researchers met with public health organizations and regional officials to develop a map that identifies vulnerable neighborhoods, so resources can be allocated accordingly.
It’s another great example of how various sectors can work together and share their knowledge and experience to create effective climate solutions.
Christina Willams, contributor to GreenBiz
The Portland region of Oregon has a legacy of reducing carbon emissions while encouraging economic growth and welcoming new residents.
Since 1990, total local carbon emissions have fallen 14 percent while the metropolitcan area grew by 150,000 people and 75,000 new jobs. That reduction translates to 35 percent per person.
But there’s still a long way to go to achieve Portland’s Climate Action Plan goal of reducing carbon emission 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, while also supporting a thriving, equitable economy. Significant work remains to achieve a prosperous, healthy and equitable low-carbon future.
The progress that’s been made to date on Portland’s climate action goals are due, in part, to some things that Portland is best known for — a robust alternative transportation network and an urban growth boundary that prevents unchecked sprawl and the accompanying transportation emissions.
In addition, Portland has been working hard on both energy efficiency, through programs such as Clean Energy Works Oregon, and on transitioning to renewable energy, through community purchasing programs such as Solarize Portland.
But the gap between where Portland’s carbon emissions are now and where they need to be by 2050 is weighted with complicated research questions. Additionally, Portland is taking a proactive approach to climate change preparation by taking steps to protect the region from the impacts we’re already starting to see such as reduced snow packs, higher temperatures and more intense rain events.
Image credit: Shutterstock/Kevin Bermingham