In 2007 Oregon set a 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goal that is almost 30% below today's levels. How do we get there? In October 2010 the Oregon Global Warming Commission unanimously adopted a roadmap of ideas.
Climate change is here. Average temperatures in Oregon are rising. Shifting weather patterns may bring more drought to some areas, more rain and flooding to others. Sea levels are rising, threatening coastal communities. Lower average snowpack in Oregon’s higher mountains means lower stream flows in summers to come when both fish and farmers need water. Warmer waters also threaten salmon runs and river ecosystems. The quality of life that we enjoy as Oregonians, and our economic futures, are in jeopardy.
The problem: too much carbon in the atmosphere. The world’s climate scientists attribute the greater part of observed global climate changes over the past 200 years to the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are released when we burn fossil fuels.
We know how to solve it. Oregon and the Pacific Northwest already lead the nation in reliance on renewable energy. To the hydroelectricity from our rivers we’re adding wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy technologies. Energy efficiency has been a passion in Oregon since the energy crises of the 1970s. Our cities have become world showcases demonstrating how urban areas thrive when transit, bicycles and pedestrians share transportation duties with the automobile.
We know how to do this. We're doing it: creating green jobs and businesses, improving livability, adding to local tax receipts, and developing new products and services to sell to those in the slow lane.
Oregonians are leaders and innovators. We also care . . . about the health of our streams and forests, and about the world we will leave to our children and grandchildren. We can contain greenhouse gas emissions, manage the impacts before they reach widely destructive levels, and create new opportunities for economic growth– but we must act now. Oregon has committed to arresting the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, then joining a global effort to reduce them to safe levels by 2050.
There’s time...if we start now. But each day’s delay means steeper reductions when we get around to making them. The good news is that Oregon’s efforts are already showing results: we’re on target to meet our 2010 goal, but need to step up our efforts to reach our 2020 and 2050 goals.
The Oregon Global Warming Commission (OGWC) created this site as a collaborative work-in-progress with Oregon citizens, businesses, communities and scientists. Our collective task is to inform and educate ourselves on climate change: the science, the economic choices and opportunities, strategies to reduce emissions, and ways to prepare for and adapt to the effects climate change will have on Oregonians and our environment. On this website you will find information on how climate change is already affecting Oregon, and what citizens and communities around the state are doing in response. We encourage you to contribute your stories as well.