Portland has soaring climate rhetoric, but 1,000 pounds per person more in greenhouse gases from driving

Portland has adopted bold climate goals, but when it comes to the single largest local source of greenhouse gas emissions, we’re moving rapidly in the wrong direction.  Greenhouse gas emissions in the Portland area have grown by more than 1,000 pounds per person in just the past five years.  Here are the data, gathered from the national DARTE transportation emissions database.


Data are stated in kilograms of carbon per person.  After declining for years, Portland’s driving emissions went up from 3,423 kilograms per person in 2013 to 3,892 kilograms in 2017.

These data are the foundation of the op-ed published in the Oregonian on December 15.  “Portland’s phony, failing climate strategy.”

The City’s own Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2015, said that even with widespread vehicle electrification, the city would need to reduce driving by more than half  by 2050 in order to meet its adopted goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to by 80 percent from their 1990 levels.

Instead, driving and driving-related emissions have increased.  What’s worse is that around the region, public leaders are pushing to spend billions of dollars to widen existing freeways which will only encourage more driving and more carbon pollution.

As the op-ed concludes:

Our leaders are pretending to be climate champions, but their actions make them effectively the worst sort of climate change denialists, giving the impression that something is being done, while enabling the same failed policies and spending decisions that created the climate crisis to march on unquestioned.