DPO Environmental Caucus

Learning from COVID to Address Climate Change

If there is one thing we learn from the COVID19 pandemic, it is that listening to scientists saves lives. The Governor is listening to climate scientists. Her Executive Order 20-04 (EO), directing state agencies to take actions to reduce and regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will save lives.

We applaud Governor Kate Brown for taking a bold step setting regulations that will place a declining cap on GHGs from industry, liquid fuels, and natural gas and using regulatory authority to enforce it.* The EO also sets a priority on adopting stricter requirements on the percentage of GHG from gasoline and diesel fuels under the 2019 Clean Fuels bill, that will help transition to electric vehicles and related infrastructure.

Another segment requires stronger energy efficiency requirements in new construction and consumer products. The improvements in energy efficiency, building codes and electrifying our governments fleets will save us all money.

The EO also ensures that we transition off fossil fuels and prioritize climate crisis resilience under the Just Transition principles of the Green New Deal. Numerous agencies will embed lower carbon emissions and climate resilience in their budgets, planning and operations.  The State will change its procurement policies to transition to low carbon operations in purchasing and contracting, such as buying local, which improves the economy.

Please read our 2-page Summary of the Executive Order and share it with your county commissioners, County parties and on social media and ask them to do the same.

There is little mention of the Executive Order in the media. It should be talked about and supported. The impacts of the climate emergency cost Oregonians billions of dollars yearly, along with lives and jobs, due to flooding, wildfire smoke-induced health events, wildfires, coastal erosion and sea level rise, and damages to fisheries and agriculture.

Given the failure of the legislature to act, the Governor had to act for the sake of Oregonians. Governor Brown’s actions are some one of the strongest in the nation. She joins other governors from states such as North Carolina, Maine and Wisconsin in issuing an EO on climate.

Although the EO and strengthening the 2019 Clean Fuels law are significant steps, they are the first of many that are needed to ensure a healthy and sustainable future. In order to avoid catastrophic changes to our way of life, climate scientists tell us that we need to reduce GHG emissions by 7.6 percent annually between January 2020 and January 2030 to avoid exceeding the 1.5 ⁰C rise in global temperatures. We all need to work for more rapid and comprehensive measures to ensure a livable environment. Importantly, the agencies can meet the EO emission reduction targets sooner than 2035 or 2050 dates in the EO and current laws.

We want to help them do that and we want to encourage bold legislative actions.

Join our Environmental Caucus to take action or give us a call!

Helen Kennedy, Treasurer; [email protected]
Catherine Thomasson, Vice-Chair, 503-819-1170, [email protected]
Calla Felicity, Chair; 541-698-7022; [email protected]
Daphne Wysham, SCC Delegate

* Unlike the cap and trade legislation, the EO has no trade component or purchasing of allowances by major climate emitters.