Meeting Our Goals
In 2007, the Oregon Legislature established climate change goals for the state through House Bill 3543, the bill which also created the Oregon Global Warming Commission.
In 1990, Oregon's recorded levels of greenhouse gases totaled 56.4 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
This means that Oregon's levels should be 14 or lower by 2050.
HB 3543 called on Oregon to prepare for the effects of climate change, and set specific greenhouse gas reduction goals:
- Arrest the growth and begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2010.
- Achieve greenhouse gas levels that are 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
- Achieve greenhouse gas levels that are at least 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Oregon's Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Data presented below are from the Oregon Global Warming Commission's most recent Report to the Legislature. Click on charts/tables to enlarge.
Oregon Emissions by Sector
The following table and chart summarize GHG emissions by economic sectors between 1990 and 2015. The transportation sector is the largest contributor of GHG emissions, followed by the residential and commercial sector. Overall emissions dipped between 2000 and 2014, but increased in 2015.
Transportation Sector Emissions
Emissions within the transportation sector are primarily from fuel used by on-road vehicles, such as passenger cars and trucks. Freight and commercial vehicles; aviation; and off-road transportation like farm vehicles, trains, and boats also contribute to GHG emissions.
Transportation emissions have fluctuated since 1990, as shown in the chart below. Between 2007 and 2014, emissions were relatively flat or declining. In 2015, a noticeable uptick in emissions may be attributable to a recovering economy or an increase in overall vehicle miles traveled.
Residential & Commercial Sector Emissions
Emissions from homes and commercial buildings come primarily from energy generation, including electricity and natural gas. Other sources include petroleum fuels used for heating, the decomposition of waste in landfills, waste incineration, and wastewater treatment.
The chart below breaks down sector emissions from electricity, natural gas, and petroleum use. Energy demand by homes and businesses affects emissions, as does the availability of renewable resources, such as hydropower or solar power, for energy generation. As renewable energy resources replace GHG-emitting resources, residential and commercial sector emissions should decrease. However, changing weather or climate could affect the availability of some renewables.
Similar to residential and commercial activities, emissions from the industrial sector also come primarily from electricity generation and natural gas combustion, as the chart below illustrates. Petroleum emissions have declined since the late 1990s largely because many facilities transitioned to natural gas; emissions from coal combustion are nominal.
Some industries emit GHGs from processes other than fuel combustion, such as manufacturing cement, pulp and paper, and semiconductors.
In the agricultural sector, most of the approximately 5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions are from methane and nitrous oxide rather than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions are primarily from enteric fermentation, such as the digestion of feed from livestock. Nitrous oxide emissions are primarily from nitrogen-based fertilizers used for soil management.
Other emissions come from managing livestock manure, liming of soils, urea fertilization, and residue burning.
Oregon's Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections
With Oregon's strengthened Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements, some sectors should see reduced greenhouse gas emissions from electricity or other energy sources. However, even with improved RPS requirements, the state's forecast is not expected to even come close to the 2020 or 2050 goals.
Data from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's mandatory reporting program and other tools help us assess whether or not we are likely to meet our goals. In 2016, DEQ used a Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) model to forecast and analyze greenhouse gas emissions.
As shown in the chart below, the LEAP model shows a "business as usual" forecast in red, the previous forecast before using LEAP in orange, historical emissions in Oregon in blue, and the needed trajectory to meet the 2050 goal in yellow. The LEAP forecast shows a clear dip thanks to the new RPS requirements, but not enough to affect the trajectory to meet the yellow goal line.