If you’re a city leader grappling with urgent and complex questions, say, about how to close the gap between where your city’s carbon emissions are now and where they need to be in the future, where would you go for help?
You might follow the lead of Portland, Oregon, which has tapped into its city’s home research institute, Portland State University (PSU), to enlist the help of multi-disciplinary scientists, researchers, and climate experts. The Portland Climate Action Collaborative was created, with the support of the Bullitt Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, to tackle some of the most complicated and pressing challenges facing Portland’s Climate Action Plan. To ease the way, PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) helps project-manage and navigate within the university structure, essentially acting as a match-maker between PSU “assets” (faculty and researchers) and the research and local climate action priorities established by Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
A key success factor is that this synergistic partnership has been co-created between those working on policy and those conducting the research, with both sides gaining value that can be built upon in the future. Another benefit comes from internships which enable PSU students to gain valuable experience while adding capacity to the effort. This collaborative model, together with other innovative partnerships, hold much promise as we work toward our collective climate action goals and a thriving, equitable, low-carbon future. For resources and tools to help you collaborate with the campuses in your own communities, check out ecoAmerica’s Solution Generation. And thank you for joining us on the Path to Positive!
The Portland region of Oregon has a legacy of reducing carbon emissions while encouraging economic growth and welcoming new residents.
Since 1990, total local carbon emissions have fallen 14 percent while the metropolitan area grew by 150,000 people and 75,000 new jobs. That reduction translates to 35 percent per person.
But there’s still a long way to go to achieve Portland’s Climate Action Plan goal of reducing carbon emission 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, while also supporting a thriving, equitable economy. Significant work remains to achieve a prosperous, healthy and equitable low-carbon future.
The progress that’s been made to date on Portland’s climate action goals are due, in part, to some things that Portland is best known for — a robust alternative transportation network and an urban growth boundary that prevents unchecked sprawl and the accompanying transportation emissions.
In addition, Portland has been working hard on both energy efficiency, through programs such asClean Energy Works Oregon, and on transitioning to renewable energy, through community purchasing programs such as Solarize Portland.
But the gap between where Portland’s carbon emissions are now and where they need to be by 2050 is weighted with complicated research questions. Additionally, Portland is taking a proactive approach to climate change preparation by taking steps to protect the region from the impacts we’re already starting to see such as reduced snow packs, higher temperatures and more intense rain events.