Ensure a habitable planet by reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible, fostering agriculture and forestry practices that maximize carbon sequestration and increasing resilience in our built and natural environment, while achieving a just transition to an economy based on renewables.
Putting a Price on GreenhouseGases (GHGs)
Oregon has several policies in place to help reduce climate pollution, including standards for clean transportation fuels, targets for renewable energy sources and a phase-out of coal powered electricity, but it lacks comprehensive, economy-wide goals and programs. Critically, it lacks enforceable, science-based targets to steadily reduce climate pollution over time.
The Clean Energy and Jobs bill (SB 557) has been introduced at the Oregon Legislature. This legislation will help us smooth the way into the Great Transition needed to achieve a fossil-free future.
Here are the key components of this bill:
Establish an enforceable, steadily declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The current bill needs to be strengthened to ensure that new goals be based on the best available science.
Force polluters to pay. Polluting companies would pay for permits for emissions up to their capped limits and pay additional penalties if they exceed the cap.
Make investments that enable a just transition. We know that the climate crisis has disproportionate impact on disadvantaged communities that lack the resources to adapt and are thus most vulnerable. A significant share of the monies generated by the polluters will be used to help those living in economically distressed areas, along with workers displaced by the transition to an economy based on renewable energy, by funding projects and programs that create jobs and provide education and job training.
California has demonstrated with this polluters pay approach that states can grow their economy and create jobs while reducing GHG emissions and helping to ensure a just transition.
What Can I Do Now?
Write a letter (or make a phone call or send a personal email) to your Senator and Representative. The listen to their constituents!
If you don’t know who your State Representative or Senator is, you can look them up here
Sample Letter to your Legislator
We strongly encourage you to make this a handwritten letter. Use your own words and keep to one page.
Dear Representative/Senator _____________,
Start by introducing yourself and that you are a constituent, e.g.
I live in the Alameda neighborhood and as one of your constituents I am writing you about an issue that deeply concerns me, the climate crisis.
Address some of the threats associated with the climate crisis. Use some of the following and personalize these as much as possible:
We know that the weather is becoming more severe and extreme – we have a moral obligation to protect our children from these increasing threats.
Droughts are becoming longer at the same time as storms are becoming stronger. Here in the Northwest snow on our mountains is melting earlier resulting in less water in the summer.
Wildfires are becoming more intense and fire seasons longer putting more communities at risk and of course adding to the increase of greenhouse gases.
Ocean acidification is increasingly a serious problem. Willapa Bay oysters are unable to reproduce. Reefs across the world are dying.
Salmon across the Northwest are at risk as rivers are projected to warm to such an extent that they will be un-inhabitable for salmon.
Nine of the last ten years have been the hottest on record according to NASA and NOAA. These higher temperatures are leading to more asthma and other respiratory problems especially among children.
Experts agree strongly that the best way to address all these many threats to our children, our health, our environment, is to put a price on carbon.
In your letter stress urgency, and emphasize that the price of inaction far outweighs investments in solutions
Next discuss solutions,e.g.
I urge you to to support strong legislation in the coming session that will put a cap on carbon and lead to needed investments in increased energy efficiency, and increased reliance on renewable sources of energy.
Use any of the following to point out solutions that will address the climate crisis:
We need to hold those who are polluting our atmosphere with greenhouse gases accountable. Many years of real world experience demonstrate that economies actually thrive when the polluters pay. As one example, California has been doing this for years and has added more jobs than other states.
A cap and invest program would enable Oregon to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lead to investments in efficiency and clean energy. Right now we are sending millions of dollars to out of state fossil fuel companies. We need to instead put that money to work here on clean energy solutions and jobs.
We need state government to help us address the climate crisis. Just as communities hire firefighters for prevention and fire fighting, we need help with companies that are now dumping their greenhouse gases into our atmosphere as if it were an open sewer. We expect government to be responsive and effective in solving these kinds of terrible problems.
We need to also be sure that rural and dis-advantaged communities are not harmed by the solutions needed. Research by PSU shows that in fact rural Oregonians will pay less than urban folks and benefit most from polluter pay programs through job creation and wage increases.
Conclude by summarizing and thanking your Legislator for giving this issue their attention and concern, e.g.
Oregon has often taken the lead in addressing major environmental problems by passing legislation like the Bottle Bill and Statewide Comprehensive Land Use Planning. We need to once again be a leader in tackling the climate crisis. Please do all that you can to help us cap and reduce greenhouse gases over time. We know that when the polluters pay they will then do their part to protect Oregon. We have the ingenuity, knowhow and workforce; we just need the political will.