City reveals wins, warnings in Portland climate fight

Multnomah County

Climate activists have been protesting Zenith Energy in Portland for months

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new report from Portland’s city council reveals successes and warnings in the fight against climate change.

The city has spent decades trying to improve carbon emissions but the latest report released Wednesday shows emission reductions have plateaued in Multnomah County with just a 15% reduction from levels in 1990.

City officials said the figure is better than it seems at first glance since there are nearly 40% more people living in the metro area than there were about 30 years ago. The report states emissions have actually decreased by 38% per person in that same time period due largely to growth in renewable energy resources, investments in bike and transit infrastructure and a transition from fossil fuel to natural gas for heating.

But despite the improvements, the city is sounding the alarm for faster, swifter action.

The report covers information gathered up to 2017. It claims temperatures in the Pacific Northwest have increased by two degrees since 1990, leading to warmer winters, lighter snowpacks, hotter summers and stronger storms.

Read the full Multnomah County climate report

Local climate activists believe the Zenith Energy oil train terminal in Northwest Portland is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving a cleaner environment. They want to shut down the company’s crude oil terminal and block its planned expansion.

On Wednesday, groups who are against the oil terminal and fossil fuels delivered thousands of petition signatures against Zenith’s Tar Sands facility to city councilors.

At a public forum with city officials in July, they heard from leaders who said their hands are tied, to an extent, as rails are controlled by the federal government.

But Mayor Ted Wheeler announced on Wednesday city attorneys are working on ways to block Zenith Energy’s new development and expansion.

The city is also making investments in solar energy and plans for toll roads are in the works as part of the push to get gas-powered cars and trucks off city streets.

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The release of the Multnomah County climate report comes ahead of demonstrations that will play out on the global stage. People around the world will take part in climate strikes Friday to demand action. Thousands of people are expected to march in downtown Portland.

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