At Climate Action Plan Townhall, North Portland, at University Park Community Center. July 7th, 2009.
Before it starts, I was happy that I got wi-fi for free, and I saw Jonathan Maus of Bikeportland and Mayor Sam Adams is hosting the event. The event is sponsored by Urban League of Portland.
Starting off by asking for audience input, what brought us here? What do we care about?
From the audience-
Where is improved transit in the plan? What are the keys to the plan?
What is the difference between chemtrails and contrails? Water issues? Equity and climate justice issues, specifically heat impacts on communities? Evidence that carbon has an impact on the environment? How are you going to implement this? How could city government implement such a plan? How to prioritize which actions to take first? We should distinguish between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide (this was a big question, requiring the guy to turn around and address the audience, from his perch at the front)
audience poll, via wireless responders handed out:
47 percent have lived in pdx for over 10 years.
Thought to be strongly affected by climate change
when will it affect me? 67 percent right now, 28 percent 5-10 years
how do you get around town? Sans car.
How familiar? Pretty familiar with climate change stuff.
now onto a presentation on the plan. Emphasizing this is a draft, and another draft will be out this fall.
Going over the history, from 1993 position as a national leader. Current goal 10% lower than 1990 levels by 2010. (not meeting current goal, only 1% below at present)
addressing what we are looking to do, as from the survey, that 95% of us believe in the science between climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, so don’t need to address the more basic issue of whether or not carbon emissions are in fact causing climate change.
Mayor Adams wanted to ensure the skeptics got a chance to speak, so they all had their say. They didn’t really mention Portland, but rather debated the general premises of Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Some of them also really hounded Obama and “his plans,” maybe a mention of the UN, I think. Now back to reality.
The Mayor mentions that we’re not on track to meet current goal, and there has been a slight uptick lately in CO2 emissions in the county. Michael, the science guy, is talking now, looking at the overall reductions that would be required to meet the larger goal of 80% reduction by 2050. it’s so large of a reduction and so far away, we have an interim goal of a 40% reduction by 2030. 2012 actions are what we’re actually gonna do.
The Mayor believes our efforts must be comprehensive, and not be in one area of emissions, we’ll have to make strides in all sectors to achieve the 80% goal. Now go through each of the eight action areas, and point out highlights.
1.Buildings and Energy
Provide low cost financing for home and business energy efficiency upgrades.
The city has a pilot program in the works at cleanenergyworksportland.org
goal of installing 5 Megawatts of solar, the equivalent of 2,500 home systems.
Establish a district heating and cooling system.
2.Land Use and Mobility
fund next 8 miles of streetcar lines. Invest in infrastructure like sidewalks, fund the next tier of Bicycle Master Plan improvements.
3.Consumption and Solid Waste
Implement curbside food-waste collection for residences.
Grey to Green, more trees, ecoroofs, green street facilities.
Mayor says good payoff for investing in trees, cost benefit is in our favor.
Create 1300 new community garden plots, she mentioned there was a waiting list this long in Portland.
Increase the consumption of local foods, less about what you’re eating and more about thinking about where it’s from. Mayor really didn’t want to offend the cattle industry.
Engage residents, build on business leadership, “Climate Champion” recognition.
Mayor said it’s important to include the whole of the community, but this wasn’t listed as a bullet point.
7.Climate Change Preparation
prepare an assessment of vulnerabilities.
8.Local Government Operations
Capital improvement bonds. yeah and more!
Quality of Life Matters!
The Mayor now runs over the questions taken by the audience and jotted down, a pretty good effort to include all concerns mentioned. Even if he quickly answers/dismisses the concern. He readily admits to shortcomings, by saying we will address them more in the upcoming drafts.
Now some more of the audience polling to wrap things up. Overall, people seem to be pretty far along in green-living already. Which is what you may expect, also, it’s good that the Urban League or Portland sponsored this and raised issues of racial equity, but when you scan the audience, it’s mostly a white turnout. It’s also older, but there are plenty of mid-range looking people. The stat of most people living here for 10 years or more was telling. I wonder about home ownership rates? and income, I would think there should be some interesting correlations, with who’s here, who goes to farmer markets, and who doesn’t, with who isn’t here. I was impressed by the accounting aspect of the plan, they seem to have a good idea of what is going on presently, they point out how Portland lacks a baseline, of sorts, to know how to quantify improvements. And some good questions were raised, like about differing types of jobs and how they will be affected by these plans.
Afterward: a few observations:
I think this is a larger question, how will the city address low-income individuals and families going forward? I think breakdowns of emissions along those lines could help to clarify how certain areas of emissions may be more costly to reduce. Looking at the current developments along MLK Jr. Blvd., it seems green development, and general green community actions, proceed with a certain style, or attitude. While much of this is based in science of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, other acts seem to be driven by a desire to live locally, or within what the Climate Action Plan calls a 20-minute neighborhood, where you can walk and bike around to have your daily living needs met within a 20-minute radius. This is a great idea, but to me, I want to live in an environment such as this but don’t need a recognize anything about my carbon footprint to do so. I see why these ideas go together, as living locally reduces your carbon emissions, but so much of what is in this Climate Action Plan has to with neighborhoods and how we want to live, that we could call it just an Action Plan, or a City Plan. It seems talking about the scientific aspects leads to confusion, parts per million and chemtrails. Having these skeptics at the meeting didn’t add anything to our Action Plan, but it was interesting to see that even they agreed with aspects of this plan, parts that I don’t think they had read about before hand, as there isn’t a low-budget, self-made, youtube distributed, conspiracy-laden diatribe in favor of 20-minute neighborhoods.
You can download the 50 page report, or individual sections of it, here. Also at that link you can comment to the city on this draft, but only until July 13th, 2009.
Here is a video I took of a skeptic at the meeting, and another still shot, you can see two cameras, they both recorded the entire meeting.