Friday, February 3, 2017

Legislative Climate Change Report Highlights Reversal of Progress, Calls for Action

Ice loss on Mt. Hood 1984 - 2013
The draft of the 2017 Oregon Global Warming Commission Biennial Report to the Legislature is making the rounds, and it's not pretty.

Exec Summary: Rising Transportation Emissions
From the very top of the Executive Summary:
  • Rising transportation emissions are driving increases in statewide emissions
  • Oregon will not meet its 2020 emission reduction goal
  • [we need] a transportation funding package to prioritize policies and programs that will make material differences in the GHG emissions from transportation
And further in, on a "perilous reversal" of progress:
Transportation Emissions: Reliable 2015 data on transportation GHG emissions – Oregon’s largest emissions sector; see pp. 17-18 of this report – will allow 2017’s legislators to rationally weigh choices to substantially reduce those emissions alongside other transportation policies that provide economic stimulation and congestion relief (of course many clean transportation choices also contribute materially to these other important policy outcomes). The 2015 numbers suggest this debate is timely if not overdue, as the increasing transportation emissions describe a perilous reversal of the progress we’ve made over the last 15 years. This disturbing trend may be resulting from the compounded effects of (1) a 2013-2015 upturn in Vehicle Miles Traveled by Oregon drivers, and (2) a flattening out, since early 2015, of vehicle fuel efficiency (MPG) gains nationally.

As legislators gather for their 2017 session and likely transportation legislation including a gas tax increase, their choices should be guided by both economic and environmental outcomes including these disturbing transportation emissions trends, and by the findings of the 2013 Sustainable Transportation Strategy ODOT analysis that identifies increased transit service levels, and wider deployment of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) reliant on a clean electrical grid as two critical strategies to contain those emissions.
It's disappointing, however, not to see more on walking, biking, and transportation demand management in VMT reduction. Making it easy for people to drive less or not at all!

In any event, it's never too late to start contacting your Legislators about supporting rational transportation for greenhouse gases, for safety, and for livability. (As the session continues, a more specific ask and slate of bills to support may emerge, as well as ways to frame messaging for Rs and Ds.)

No comments: