Democracy wins in Portland’s 2015 Climate Action Plan

PDX people link arms in a dance that celebrates the earth.

PDX people link arms in a dance that celebrates the earth.

Last week the city of Portland voted to pass the 2015 Climate Action Plan (CAP). Thanks to everyone who put time and thought into this process! The changes you proposed were heard and many will be put into action. Take a minute to celebrate this win, and look forward to the many ways 350PDX will be working with Portland to carry through on their promises. As someone who often thinks about the many ways our democracy is failing, it was incredibly powerful to see people lift up their voices and have their words take shape in government policy.

Your comments created change in the Climate Action Plan!

  • Meatless Monday
  • Divestment by 2020
  • An export policy by 2020
  • All bureaus must reduce carbon emissions until atmospheric CO2 is back to 350ppm

LaVeta Gilmore Jones, community organizer for Salt and Light Lutheran Church (Leaven), leads the rally participants in song.

The hearing kicked off with a rally hosted by the Climate Action Coalition, a coalition of environmental, faith-based, and social justice groups from the Portland area. Despite passing rain, roughly 80 people gathered outside City Hall to sing, dance and hear speeches from community leaders on the progress we’ve made and the fights still to come. One of the most empowering moments happened when everyone in the crowd came together in a circle and linked arms, symbolizing the power of individuals to build a movement strong enough to tackle the reality of the climate crisis and win.

After an obligatory hour of corporate-sponsored endorsements for the CAP, the council opened the floor to a wave of amazing testimonies from community members who brought personal stories to the hearing. A local surgeon, Patrick O’Herron M.D., focused on CAP’s ambition, comparing the climate crisis to an emergency medical procedure, “As a surgeon, when I see severe trauma or a gunshot wound the best course of action is to act boldly.” Another speaker, a mother accompanied by her young daughter, spoke about her faith in the council to make the right decision and ban fossil fuel exports, saying “I’m here because of my daughter Joan.” Joan piped up too, “Keep fossil fuels in the ground!”

[To be clear, the council did not vote to ban exports at this time.]


Here are some of our wins:

Divestment from fossil fuels

Portland committed to establish a divestment policy by 2020. Two years of hard work by the 350PDX divestment team means the city is now forced to pay attention. Their decision shows that the scale is starting to tip towards divestment activists and Portland is one step closer to being free from the grasp of the fossil fuel industry.


The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) created an Equity Working Group to advise writing the 2015 CAP, which means that the CAP intentionally uses equity as a lens to understand climate change. The CAP both recognizes and prioritizes taking steps to address the disproportionate burden of climate change that is borne by low-income communities and communities of color. At this point in the game it’s crucial that any work on climate change involves a climate justice framework, and Portland has made it clear that the city is ready to work towards that end.

Carbon Pricing

The council heard several testimonies from community members advocating for carbon pricing with a dividend that is paid out to residents in the form of a check. A dividend is a way to counterbalance the regressive effects of carbon pricing, and would create an equitable economic solution to reduce carbon emissions. The council voted to pass a resolution from Portland to the state of Oregon asking to implement statewide carbon pricing with a dividend.

Export Policy

The council voted to begin writing a comprehensive fossil fuel export policy since there is none that currently exists in Portland. In fact, once Portland creates this policy it will be the first major American city to do so! In their testimonies many community members emphasized the need for Portland to create an export policy so that future projects like Pembina wouldn’t have to be case-by-case battles. A plan to write a fossil fuel export policy by 2020 is included in the 2015 CAP, and it’s clear that this is the next big initiative ahead of the BPS. The policy should look at “lifecycle emissions, safety, economics, neighborhood livability and the environment” and “oppose exports of coal and oil through Oregon.”


What’s next?

350PDX is excited to continue engaging the city on their climate action commitments, especially passing a comprehensive export policy and eventually banning all fossil fuel export, storage and transfer in Portland. In the short term, we need to remain strong against Pembina and all other dirty fuel developments in the works. The CAP is a good beginning, but 350PDX is already working with the Climate Action Coalition and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to create realistic metrics to measure its achievements and hold Portland to her commitments.


Know a lot about policy? Angry that thousands of tons of coal are still being exported through Oregon every week? Want to get involved some other way? Visit our volunteer page for more information.

Rally at City Hall for the Climate Action Plan Vote!

Boy holding world at Salem rally

On June 24th, join faith, environmental, economic justice and neighborhood groups in song and word to celebrate the Climate Action Plan and ask for even more to keep a livable climate in our children’s future.


12:15 pm – People of faith pre-gathering

12:30 pm – Rally at City Hall: Songs, words, street theatre

1:30 pm – Testimony (3 minute) sign up and procession into City Hall Chambers.

2 pm to 5 pm – Council hearing and decision on the CAP.

Evaluation will follow hearing.

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Global Divestment Day in Portland isn’t over yet!


Portlanders hold love letters to Mayor Hales asking for divestment

Divestment Love Letters (C) Rick Rappaport

We’re going to City Hall to tell Mayor Charlie Hales break up with fossil fuels for good, and we hope you can come!

The day before Valentine’s Day, three hundred 350PDX supporters gathered outside City Hall at the largest off-campus Global Divestment Day event in the country to tell Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, “We won’t be your Valentine unless you follow through on your commitment to divest the City of Portland from fossil fuel.”

Since Charlie missed all the fun in February, we’re taking it to him!

Join us on Wednesday, April 29th to hold Mayor Charlie Hales to his commitment to divest from fossil fuels!

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350PDX Organizes Hearing on Fossil Fuel Divestment Before House Committee

hearingThe House Energy & Environment Committee held an informational hearing on Climate Responsible Investment organized by 350PDX on February 25, 2014. Testifying before the committee were Sandy Polishuk, Divestment Coordinator, 350PDX; Emily Letherstrom, Senior Investment Analyst, Portfolio 21; Christy Splitt, External Affairs Director, Oregon League of Conservation Voters; Walt Eager, Corvallis, retired supervisory engineer, Oregon Department of Transportation.

Sandy Polishuk explained the math of climate change, making the case that 80% of fossil-fuel companies reserves need to be left “in the ground” in order to limit climate warming to a liveable level. She then explained’s strategy of fossil fuel divestment to highlight the destructive practices of the fossil fuel companies. She said, “Divestment would weaken the fossil fuel industry’s political standing and increase the chances of retiring its special breaks by taking away their social license to continue unchecked extraction.” Read more

Portland Steals the Show for Global Divestment Day, and Student Organizers Hold it Down on Campus!


© 2015 Rick Rappaport

© 2015 Rick Rappaport

There was more than love in the air in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. On Friday, Feb 13th, 300+ Portland residents gathered at City Hall for the event hosted by 350PDX that featured singing (The Raging Grannies), and sign waving (lots of giant Valentines), and chanting (Portland State University students), and picture-taking and calls for action. This peaceful protest was part of the larger Global Divestment Day campaign of 450 events in over 60 countries. Read more

Global Divestment Day in Portland–BREAK UP WITH FOSSIL FUELS

divest1This Valentine’s Day Friday come spend your lunch hour helping us tell Mayor Charlie Hales we won’t love him anymore unless he moves ahead and introduces the fossil fuel divestment resolution NOW!

On June 5, 2013, World Environment Day, the Mayor proclaimed, “The City must urge the Oregon State Treasurer, the Local Government Investment Pool and the Oregon Investment Council to divest of all state holdings in fossil fuel.” The next month he met with Bill McKibben and reaffirmed this commitment. 20 months later and the resolution has still not come before City Council. Instead, the City has purchased $20,000,000 in Exxon Mobile bonds.

 Charlie, have you jilted us? Stop stringing us along! It’s time you follow through on your commitment. It’s time to BREAK UP WITH FOSSIL FUELS. Divest now!

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Sandy Polishuk’s Testimony to City Council Dec. 17, 2014

Mayor Hales and members of the Council,

My name is Sandy Polishuk. I live in NE Portland. I am with 350PDX. I am also an historian and I want to give you a bit of history.

On June 5, 2013 Mayor Hales came out for fossil fuel divestment at a press conference for UN World Environment Day North America.

On July 16, 2013 Mayor Hales met with Bill McKibben and committed to divesting the City. Over the summer 350PDX met with the rest of the council and a strong majority of you committed to vote for our resolution.

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Zach Allan’s Testimony at City Council Dec. 17, 2014

The following is testimony submitted to the Portland City Council on December 17, 2014, on the subject of socially responsibly investments.

My name is Zach Allan, I live in East Portland, and I am here on the subject of socially responsible investments.  In time, unethical, business practices come and go, and one corporation may become unethical while another improves, making a good case for a permanent socially responsible investment committee.  I would like to commend the city on their Wal-Mart divestment and the establishment of this committee.

There are other companies, though, we can divest from now without need for further review.

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PSU Students Reflect on Divestment Training for NW


Visiting Students Bryce and Maggie practice communication skills while a mock blockade stands witness. Photo: Divest Portland State.

Portland State University students hosted other student campaign leaders from Oregon, Washington, and Montana at the Divestment Student Network (DSN) Northwest Regional Training earlier this month. The trainings led by Becca Rast from, Dylan Armin from DSN, and Jess Grady-Benson and Lauren Ressler from Responsible Endowments Coalition(REC) followed up on the national trainings held in San Francisco earlier this fall.

We caught up with PSU student leaders Elyse Cogburn and Linda Hoppes of Divest Portland State to find out what drew them to be part of a growing movement of college and university  fossil fuel divestment campaigns.

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