Is Charlie Hales Missing the Mark on Emissions Reduction?
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
In October, in advance of his trip to Paris, France for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Hales attended a meeting of Mayors devoted to combating the effects of climate change in their city, dubbed the “#ClimateMayors.” At the meeting, Hales outlined bold goals for the City’s carbon emissions in the coming years.
He called for a “40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030” and a “80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.” As of 2013, the City of Portland had achieved a 14 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels.
In the “#ClimateMayors” report, Hales said the City would reach those goals by doubling the numbers of solar panels installed by 2020, meeting 100% of City electricity needs from renewable power, adding to the city’s fleet of electric vehicles and proposing a policy addressing fossil fuel export facilities in the City Council.
Meanwhile, according to data from the EPA, Hales could meet his own goals simply by shutting down Portland’s the three largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the city, which emitted a combined 257,741 metric tons of CO2e. Doing so would eliminate percent of the city’s carbon emissions when compared to those 1990 levels.
Portland has a total of six facilities registered with the EPA’s greenhouse emissions reporting program. The program, begun in 2011, forces 85% of the nation’s top emitters to report on how much GHG they have emitted.
According to the most recent EPA data, Evraz Oregon Steel, the St. John Landfill and the Northwest Natural—Oregon facility are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in portland, collectively emitting 323,832 metric tons of CO2e in 2014.
Evraz Oregon Steel, a metal plant on Rivergate Boulevard, emitted 113,756 metric tons of CO2e in 2014, the most in the city. The St. John Landfill, located on North Columbia boulevard and the Northwest Natural—Oregon facility, a petroleum and natural gas system plant, are next on the list emitting 84,755 metric tons and 59,113 metric tons, respectively
In 1990, Portland emitted 8,599,508 metric tons of CO2e. In order to hit the climate plan goals, the City of Portland must reduce their emissions by 3,439,803 metric tons by 2030 and 6,879,606 by 2050.
Eliminating those three leading emitters would eliminate 257,741 metric tons per year, a reduction of nearly 30 percent of 1990 levels every year, enabling the City of Portland to easily hit its climate goals ahead of schedule.
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