Learn why Mayor Sam Adams held his final town hall meeting on this topic in outer East Portland, and learn more about the plan …
Mayor Sam Adams welcomes citizens to his final town hall meeting regarding the City of Portland’s “Draft 2009 Climate Action Plan”.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Two days before closing comments on the City of Portland’s “Draft 2009 Climate Action Plan”, Mayor Sam Adams and staff members from the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability held their final “town hall” meeting on July 11.
Promoting the meeting, held at an auditorium classroom at David Douglas High School, the Bureau’s spokesperson, Julia Thompson, said why it was deemed important for citizens to attend the meeting: “Even though the effects of global warming are already touching everyone’s lives, it’s not too late to take action. The City of Portland and Multnomah County need direction from the community to help shape strategy.”
-2 Because the issues of climate change are vitally important, Adams says he’s taking a personal interest Action Plan.
Climate change has mayor’s personal interest
Before the town hall got under way, we asked Mayor Sam Adams why this issue seemed important enough to warrant spending City resources on it.
“The Climate Action Plan will help make Portland more self-sufficient,” Adams replied. “In doing so, it will have the potential to lower the cost to live in the city, and to do business in the city. At the same time – we will be reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Beyond this, Adams went on, City leaders hope to help create new industry. “We hope Portland will be the hub of sustainable industries, and green technologies, for the entire nation. It’s important that we do that. We’re still contemplating the best way to go about this. That’s what the Climate Action Plan is all about, and why we’re out here in the community, asking for peoples’ input, comments, and questions.”
We asked Adams why he, personally, was leading the town hall meetings.
“I feel very strongly about this issue, because more regulations are coming our way. We have to prepare for climate change – and at the same time – to do our part to reduce our impact on the environment.”
The Mayor shows audience members how to use the remote-control voting device.
Meeting scantly attended
In addition to a cadre of Bureau staff members, we counted 13 adults in the audience as Adams got the town hall underway.
“We’ve been having 70 to 80 people at our other town hall meetings,” Adams told the audience. “Nonetheless, I’m glad you all are here; we can have more one-on-one-ish conversations.”
They started by taking a survey, using remote-control voting units. These questions included:
When do you expect climate change will affect you? In a couple of years, up to 20 years, not in my lifetime?
How did you get here today? Driving, mass transit, or bicycle?
Have you changed over to compact fluorescent light bulbs yet?
“We have a good, representative series of answers here,” Mayor Adams remarked. He then outlined elements of the plan.
Adams outlines the areas of action the plan addresses.
Elements of the Action Plan
Citizens were urged to review the voluminous and colorfully-designed Draft 2009 Climate Action Plan before they attended the session. (You can still see it online at www.portlandonline.com/bps/climate). The scientific authority for the Action Plan, it states, is that “The United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The IPCC remains the primary authority on global climate change, receiving the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in the field.”
The draft Action Plan, we learned, was developed in response to a city-county commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
The plan identifies goals and specific actions to be accomplished in the next three years to accelerate local efforts to address this issue.
The broad vision of the plan emphasizes improved quality of life and aims to make Portland a “low-carbon” society, while further strengthening the local economy, advancing public health, and creating jobs.
The plan is broken into five main outcome areas:
- Each resident lives in a walkable and bikeable neighborhood, that includes retail businesses, schools, parks, and jobs.
- Green-collar jobs are a key component of the thriving regional economy, with products and services related to clean energy, green building, sustainable food and waste reuse and recovery, providing living-wage jobs throughout the community.
- Homes, offices, and other buildings are durable and highly efficient, healthy, comfortable and powered primarily by solar, wind and other renewable resources.
- Urban forest, green roofs, and swales help cover the community, reducing the urban “heat island” effect, sequestering carbon, providing wildlife habitat, and cleaning the air and water.
- Food and agriculture are central to the economic and cultural vitality of the community, with productive backyard and community gardens and thriving farmers markets. A large share of food comes from farms in the region, and residents eat healthily, consuming more locally-grown grains, vegetables, and fruits.
The best part of this Action Plan, Adams says, is that it will help increase livability in Portland while it helps slow global climate change.
The Climate Action Plan outlines objectives for 2030, and actions to be taken by 2012. The Portland City Council may vote to approve the plan this fall.
© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News