A Green New Deal for #OurPortland
Proposed by: Sarah Iannarone, Candidate, Portland Mayor
“By investing in public education, resilient institutions, affordable housing and community services, we can lift up a community-led, anti-displacement-focused vision of climate action.” (Living Cully)
For decades, Portland has called itself a leader in climate action, touting our “legacy of leadership” to the world. Sadly, we have failed in this undertaking: not only are we falling short of our carbon reduction targets, but Portland’s carbon emissions are rising. Acting with urgency and partnering with our frontline communities is the only ethical and practical response to the climate crisis unfolding around us.
As Portlanders, we have a responsibility to do better. We must stop putting out empty plans and proclamations while our children’s futures hang in the balance. We must shift our priorities away from economic growth and expansion to maximizing human and environmental health and justice. We cannot accept tepid leadership and centrist incrementalism if we hope to stave off ecological collapse.
We cannot think of investments in our sustainable future in terms of “How much will it cost?” but should ask instead, “How much will it cost if we don’t act now?” At this critical time, Portland cannot afford to elect anyone but a climate champion who understands the connections between urban density, greenhouse gas emissions, and access to economic opportunity. We need a leader who knows the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk; a leader with the know-how to harness our resources and empower our communities into a formidable force for change. We need a mayor with the tactical optimism to believe a better future is possible and the tenacity to get us there.
As mayor, Sarah’s number one focus will be re-establishing Portland’s global climate leadership— not as a branding exercise, but because our future depends on it. Through sweeping changes in the ways we invest in jobs, education, and infrastructure, Sarah’s leadership will ensure that our communities are prosperous and equitable, and that our environment is healthy and habitable— today, tomorrow, and for future generations.
Here is Sarah’s roadmap to a Future-Ready Portland:
- Declare a climate emergency… then act with urgency.
- Over 800 cities around the world have already declared a climate emergency while Portland drags its feet. We must immediately take this long-overdue first step toward radical climate action.
- Fill the leadership void in City Hall from Day One by implementing a climate action test for all policy; reset citywide climate targets in line with the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and all subsequent IPCC Reports; and strategically align our siloed bureaus and budgets to meet existing City of Portland Climate Action, Vision Zero, and Racial Justice and Equity policies.
- “What you measure is what you’ll get.” Portlanders must explore and implement alternative measures to assess progress, e.g. “Happiness Index,” “General Progress Indicators” etc. that reflect our values and goals as a community.
- Partner with frontline communities to lead Portland’s transition.
- Intentionally shift power from city government and mainstream organizations to frontline communities. As soon as logistically possible after taking office, Sarah will convene an Intergenerational Climate Summit to develop a community-led plan to tackle climate change while addressing the pressing challenges of transit access, gentrification and displacement, as well as Portland’s housing affordability crisis.
- Value local knowledge by convening communities to shape policies rather than asking them to sign off on them through “outreach.” This means less policy is established by city government per se with more funding going straight to community organizations for research and development, planning, programming, and project evaluation.
- Establish robust participatory budgeting processes to align community priorities with spending. This means consulting with Portlanders for their expertise, leadership, and skillsets in a more equitable funding framework. It also educates and builds community while increasing trust in government.
- Embrace holistic, systems-thinking in tandem with “green jobs” toward restorative justice. Frontline communities know best where injustices will emerge and how they should be tackled as we head down the path of innovation; their leadership is essential.
- Net-zero by 2030, because there is no Planet B.
- Prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure including the Zenith Petroleum Terminal and I-5 Rose Quarter Freeway expansion projects and manage the rapid decline of existing fossil fuel infrastructure in line with climate science and justice needs; restrict residential natural gas build out as sought by communities and legislators in California, Washington, and Massachusetts; ban the shipping of Canadian tar sands oil, aka “bomb trains,” through our city.
- Accelerate renewable energy goals using all available legal, policy, and economic tools to push utilities toward 100% renewable energy.
- Revive Portland’s Green Building ambition and actualization including emissions caps for buildings, increasing green roofs, and encouraging the use of renewable energy, while retrofitting for seismic sustainability.
- Expand access to public transit and Low Impact Transportation (LIT). Establish universal access to fareless transit for Portlanders via Municipal ID card; invest in increased bus service coverage and frequency, particularly in East Portland; launch e-bike ownership incentive programs for low-income and households of Color; intensify investments in transit-only lanes (bus and rail), bicycle and LIT lanes, and low-income LIT subsidies (e-scooter, e-bike, cargobike and bikeshare programs) across the city.
- “The Evergreen Economy” & Shared Prosperity
- A publicly-owned municipal bank will keep our hard-earned money circulating locally, decrease borrowing costs, and ensure that profits reaped from our sustainability investments at home aren’t negated by fossil fuel investments abroad. We can’t be financing our future by sending hundreds of millions of dollars to the same big Wall Street banks who have long opposed and undermined our values
- Progressive taxation. Large companies and the wealthy will need to pay their “fair share,” period.
- Defend and expand Portland Clean Energy Fund by making sure that corporations aren’t exempt from the Clean Energy Surcharge; steward the longevity and legitimacy of the funding; empower frontline organizations to leverage the funds for community benefit.
- Integrate the needs of workers into all climate action and focus on transitioning workers on the frontlines of climate change—including those working in the fossil fuel and fossil fuel-related industries—to jobs in clean energy and materials efficiency, renewable energy, and creating climate-resilient communities. The tension between workers and environmental protections is untenable.
- Focus on equity in public works investments to build capacity for marginalized community members and minority-owned businesses via projects including unreinforced masonry seismic retrofits; commercial and residential green building and weatherization retrofits; waste management and recycling operations; habitat restoration and tree-planting; regenerative and sustainable food systems and associated industries.
- Truly ‘Smart Cities’ are made up of low-carbon neighborhoods.
- Align city bureaus, investments, zoning, and development processes to streamline development of compact, walkable neighborhoods connected by efficient transit and Low Impact Transportation (LIT) infrastructure.
- Establish “zero emission zones” in critical areas citywide including pedestrian streets, transit corridors and town centers, around parks and schools, and the central city.
- Rethink city streets (including parking policy) so public transit and electric mobility options are reliable, affordable, safe, efficient, and accessible to all residents. No Portlander should be stranded more than a single transit ride away from work, school or play.
- Retrofit urban golf courses and other environmentally degrading land uses (e.g. former fossil fuel terminals) to ecologically sound, mixed-income, intergenerational, transit-oriented neighborhoods as well as habitat restoration and reclamation projects.
- Community Energy Planning to promote prosperity and prevent displacement through investments in conservation and renewable energy.