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Local Approaches for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Portland Story

Susan Anderson

  • Director, City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development

Paris has fashion. New York has its financial district. Las Vegas has gambling. And, Portland has....sustainability.

While many cities are just beginning to embrace the concept of sustainability, Portland has been hard at work for 30 years. The city's setting, among some of the most stunning natural beauty in the US, has instilled in Portland residents a deep-seated desire to protect natural resources and enable the built and natural environments to prosper and thrive together. In 1993, Portland became the first city in the US to adopt a local-action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout all sectors of the community. The plan includes a goal of a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 2010. The city has closely monitored results of this plan and has tracked a reduction in per capita carbon dioxide emissions of 14% below 1990 levels. Most of the actions taken to reduce emissions were not done to impact global warming, but to cut costs, reduce traffic congestion, save money for homeowners, improve air quality and overall livability by developing a more vibrant, walkable city.

Many communities throughout the world are taking similar actions to Portland. These cities understand the value of a healthy environment on the overall vitality of a community and the economic advantages in terms of jobs and wealth creation. Portland businesses are now selling sustainable technologies, products and development services to the rest of the world. What started as an environmental movement has become a centerpiece of Portland's economic-development strategy

Thursday, November 29, 2007