Five things the Oregon legislature can do to act on climate in 2021

There are many steps the state can take during the 2021 legislative session to act on climate, protect our outdoors spaces, and invest in local communities. Here are five. 

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John Ammondson
Advocate, Environment Oregon

Author: John Ammondson

Advocate, Environment Oregon

Started on staff: 2018
B.A., Vassar College

John leads statewide campaigns for clean air, clean water and clean energy throughout Oregon. Prior to his current role, John helped lead organizing efforts to ban polystyrene containers, plastic bags and other single-use plastics in Oregon. John spends his free time biking, hiking, running and climbing through Oregon's public lands and trying to learn how to play guitar.

The wildfires that tore across Oregon and the West Coast in early September are a visceral reminder of the threat climate change poses to our state and our communities, and should spur the state towards bold climate action. As legislators gather to work on addressing the many crises facing Oregon, climate change must continue to be a priority. Fortunately, there are many steps the state can take right now to act on climate, protect our outdoors spaces, and invest in local communities. Here are five. 

  1. Putting Oregon on the path to 100% renewable energy. States across the country have set their sights on 100% renewable energy, and it’s time for Oregon to join them. We have no time to waste when it comes to tackling the climate crisis and protecting our planet for future generations. Transitioning Oregon to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 will allow us to leave fossil fuels in the past and power our society with energy that is clean, renewable, and sustainable. 

  1. Updating appliance standards. Dishwashers, dryers, air conditioners, lights, and other appliances use a considerable amount of energy in our homes, and making them more efficient reduces their environmental impact. Proposed legislation to establish new energy efficiency standards and update some existing standards will help us tackle one part of our climate problem while helping consumers use less energy and save money. 

  1. Investing in electric vehicle infrastructure. Oregon’s portion of the West Coast Electric Highway has been a boon for electric vehicle owners in the state, but with the booming popularity of EVs and new charging technologies entering the market it’s time for an update. Establishing a network of fast, reliable charging stations across the state will help more Oregonians get where they need to go in EVs, accelerating the electrification of Oregon’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. 

  1. Getting rid of single-use plastics. Plastic production is a fundamentally carbon-emitting process in every way, from the extraction of natural gas for plastic feedstock to the energy-intensive refinement process to getting rid of plastic by incineration or pollution. A 2019 study estimated that, if growth in plastic production and incineration continue as planned by oil and gas majors, “their cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will be over 56 gigatons CO2e, or between 10–13 percent of the total remaining carbon budget”. Getting rid of the worst single-use plastics and making plastic producers responsible for dealing with their waste helps protect wildlife and our climate. 

  1. Invest in weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades. Some of the cleanest energy around is energy that is never used in the first place. Weatherization helps increase homes’ energy efficiency, safety, and comfort by patching holes, weather-stripping doors, and insulating attics and walls, among other improvements. Investing in these types of energy efficiency upgrades for households that wouldn’t otherwise be able to do so will increase efficiency and reduce emissions while fostering more comfortable and livable communities. 

In the coming weeks and months, be on the lookout for opportunities to make your voice heard on these and other important environmental issues and help ensure a cleaner, greener future for Oregon. 

Image by Sebastian Ganso from Pixabay

John Ammondson
Advocate, Environment Oregon

Author: John Ammondson

Advocate, Environment Oregon

Started on staff: 2018
B.A., Vassar College

John leads statewide campaigns for clean air, clean water and clean energy throughout Oregon. Prior to his current role, John helped lead organizing efforts to ban polystyrene containers, plastic bags and other single-use plastics in Oregon. John spends his free time biking, hiking, running and climbing through Oregon's public lands and trying to learn how to play guitar.