Climate change is currently the greatest threat to our planet’s diversity of life, and its impacts are already being felt by humans and wildlife alike.
Our climate work focuses in four areas:
- Creating climate resilient landscapes: Ensuring that climate modeling is integrated into efforts to protect, restore and manage habitat on urban, rural and wild landscapes to allow both people and wildlife to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- Maintaining the Portland Metro Region as a leader in implementing strategies to conserve energy, reduce emissions, integrate green infrastructure and make an equitable to transition to a renewable energy economy
- Promoting bird friendly renewable energy development: Ensuring that as we transition to renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar, we site and build these facilities in ways that avoid, minimize and mitigate habitat loss and fragmentation and direct hazards to birds and other wildlife.
- Prioritizing frontline communities that are most likely to be impacted by the effects of climate change.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation is infused throughout all of our work. Some of our current top climate related priorities include the following:
Portland Clean Energy Initiative
In 2018, voters in Portland overwhelmingly voted to pass the Portland Clean Energy Fund Initiative which places a 1 percent business license surcharge on businesses in Portland that annually make over $1 billion nationally and $500,000 in Portland.
The annual funding generated by this measure is expected to be in excess of $50 million and will go towards implementing climate strategies in Portland such as green infrastructure, weatherization of homes to save energy, installing solar panels on homes, food security, and creating green jobs and green job training. The measure prioritizes frontline communities in terms of its development, oversight, and implementation.
Portland Audubon is proud to serve on the steering committee for this effort and to have worked with a wide array of frontline communities environmental justice groups, conservation organizations and others on its passage.
Portland Fossil Fuel Facility Ban
In 2016, the City of Portland adopted the strongest ban in the United State on new fossil fuel storage facilities. Portland Audubon, 350PDX, Columbia Riverkeeper, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other groups led efforts to pass this ban. Today we are working to ensure that the ban is fully implemented.
Protecting our floodplains is one of the most important things we can do to protect our communities and environment from the impacts of climate change. It is also one of the most important things we can do to protect wildlife, habitat, and water quality.
Portland Audubon is working in multiple ways to protect floodplains including bringing a game-changing lawsuit against FEMA for facilitating development of floodplains, participating in land-use planning processes to ensure that local codes protect floodplains, fighting bad floodplain development projects and supporting new approach to managing floodplains such as Levee Ready Columbia.
Existing Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Much of the region’s fossil fuel storage capacity is located in the North Reach of the Willamette River in Portland. This is an earthquake liquefaction zone and could cause catastrophic damage to our communities and our environment in the event of the overdue Cascadia Zone subduction event.
Additionally, one out of every four people live within the blast zone radius of oil trains coming and going from these facilities. Very few of these facilities meet current safety standards. We are working with partners to not only prevent new facilities but also to ensure that existing facilities are made safer and held accountable through strategies such as risk bonding. Our communities and environment must be kept safe while we make a just transition to renewable energy.
Green infrastructure is an approach to stormwater management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure is effective, economical, and enhances community safety and quality of life. It includes planting trees, green roofs, green streets, and protecting natural areas across the urban landscape rather than putting in bigger pipes and building new costly water treatment plants.
Green infrastructure not only addresses stormwater but also cools and cleans our air and water, sequesters carbon, provides wildlife habitat, reduces urban heat island effects, and improves human health. Portland Audubon prioritizes promoting green infrastructure approaches in the Portland Metro Region. We have played a lead role in helping promote green infrastructure through our own Backyard Habitat Certification Program and through municipal efforts such as the Portland watershed management plan, promoting tree planting programs, and promoting green roofs.
Transportation System Reform
There is no element of our urban landscape that has more impact on carbon emissions than our transportation infrastructure. It also has tremendous implications for habitat protection and connectivity, air and water quality, livability and equity. Portland Audubon has prioritized transportation system reform so that we move away from a 1850s style approach that puts cars at the center of our urban planning and increases climate mitigation and adaptation, sustainability and equity. We accomplish this goal through participating in development of the Regional Transportation Plan, advocating for specific projects that advance climate justice and opposing specific projects that perpetuate a car based culture such as the proposed I-5 expansion.