Families for a Livable Climate are a new group formed by & for parents and families to advocate and take action for climate resilience in ways that are accessible & inclusive for busy families, and to elevate their voices as fierce advocates for our children’s future. They have put together this testimony to give to the Metro Council about their upcoming $3bn transportation package.
“I want you to panic . . . I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want
you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” — Greta Thunberg,
January 24, 2019
We are a group of families, writing to the Council on behalf of our children,
most of whom are too young to write on their own behalf, but whose city and
state your decisions will shape for decades to come.
We are tired of watching our leaders claim to care about climate and equity,
but then take only small and incremental steps towards addressing these urgent
issues; or, worse, make choices that are counterproductive. With 40% of
Oregon’s GHG emissions coming from transportation — and rising! — we no
longer have time for half measures.
We appreciate that the Council is working hard to balance many competing
interests, including those of folks who cannot imagine a life outside of car
culture, but the glaring truth is that we cannot address the climate crisis
without taking on automobiles.
Our country’s transportation system — private car ownership — is unsafe,
unjust, and unsustainable. Cars kill 40,000 people annually, are most cities’
largest GHG producer, are a massive burden on the poor, and the expense of
perpetually maintaining and expanding their infrastructure and storage keep
mass transit underfunded and second class. In addition, the research on
induced demand is clear: creating more roads, and widening existing roads only
encourages people to drive more. Adding capacity for more cars only adds more
Any transportation money must be spent on transforming our entire region (not
just central Portland) into a place where car ownership is unnecessary for
most people, and we can get around efficiently, safely, and pleasantly through
a variety of other modes of travel. We believe that all families in the region
deserve access to resilient, safe, equitable, accessible, non-polluting car-
free transit, including:
– integrated regional networks of electric bus and rail transit, in dedicated
lanes, linking neighborhood centers, commercial centers, and job centers
– integrated regional networks of protected bikeways connecting to
neighborhood centers, commercial centers, and job centers
– safe and connected pedestrian access to stations, beginning with the most
transit dependent areas of the region.
It is time to make sure that every dollar spent, and every project planned
includes an analysis of its GHG effects and equity effects. We ask that Metro
generate a proposal that can prove it will substantially reduce transportation
related carbon emissions within five years of bond passage.
Many of the projects proposed are a step in the right direction, but are not
themselves enough. We cannot waste more time on small-scale planning and
maybe-somedays. We need to believe our leaders can act with the courage and
vision to match the urgency of the moment.
Our — your — children and grandchildren deserve a livable climate on our
Be on the right side of history.