Oregon Global Warming Commission Publishes Biennial Report to the Legislature

Smoky Oregon.png

Angus Duncan, 503-248-7695
Lesley Jantarasami, 503-378-3780

SALEM – The effects of climate change, predicted over the last three decades, are now arriving in Oregon, challenging Oregon communities, businesses, and households, and heralded by the wildfire smoke that has choked Oregon towns from Ashland to Sisters to Portland over the last two years.

That’s the urgent message leading off the 2018 edition of the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s 2018 Biennial Report to the Legislature, and reflected in the report’s smoky cover photos of Central Oregon and Portland.

This Commission Report is the first published in an even-numbered year, ahead of the Oregon Legislature’s convening. “We wanted Oregon’s legislators to be armed with the most current data about greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and a clear understanding of the increasingly disruptive effects of climate change in Oregon,” said Commission Chair Angus Duncan. “That’s why we decided to move the publish date of our latest report ahead of the 2019 Legislative Session.”

The key takeaway from the report: Oregon is already seeing the effects of climate change – from wildfires to drought to rising ocean temperatures. Oregonians must cope with increased public health effects including smoke-associated asthma and the arrival of formerly tropical diseases along with their insect carriers. Local governments are anticipating more frequent flooding of country roads and city streets. “Oregon’s communities and the State will need to collaborate in adapting to those effects while we ramp up our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Duncan continued.

The Commission Report also makes clear that Oregon is no longer gaining ground in its emissions reduction efforts. Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity and gas use stayed flat or declined, but these results are being offset by increases in transportation emissions.

While Oregon has adopted aggressive climate change and greenhouse gas reduction goals, these are unlikely to be achieved with the State’s existing and currently planned actions. “These data and trends make abundantly clear that additional climate action is needed,” notes the Commission in its report summary.

In October, the Commission adopted and forwarded to the Legislature a unanimous resolution calling for “an economy-wide greenhouse gas cap and trade program – or comparably effective pricing mechanism” in the 2019 session.

In addition to this new 2018 report, the Commission has also just posted on its website the report from its two-year Forest Carbon Accounting Project. The Commission’s findings will contribute to defining the role forests can play in the state’s carbon strategy. Oregon’s forests are acquiring and holding more carbon than they are emitting, fires and harvests notwithstanding. Could they acquire more? Are current levels of forest-sequestered carbon at risk?

The Oregon Global Warming Commission is a 25-member volunteer group, with 11 voting and three non-voting members appointed by the Governor. Its mission is to recommend ways to coordinate state and local efforts to reduce Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, and to help Oregonians prepare for the effects of climate change. Read the Biennial Report and learn more about the Commission at www.keeporegoncool.org.