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Addressing climate change through great communities

Planning and conservation    Regional planning and policy    Climate change

Even though our region is a national leader in arresting the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, current efforts fall short of what is needed to meet state targets. Find out how Metro is working to address climate change while creating great communities.

Let's not talk about climate change: recommended best practices for climate change communications.

To effectively communicate about climate change, Metro hired Carlson Communications to review and summarize current literature on the topic. Public opinion research firm Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall was also asked to conduct research on beliefs and values about climate change and land use and transportation policies. On June 10, 2011, findings from the research were presented at a Metro learning session.

Watch video highlights
View PowerPoint presentation
Best practices handout

Since long before greenhouse gases and climate change were part of everyday conversation, Metro has been actively engaged in creating great communities through programs and strategies that result in cleaner air and the reduction of harmful carbon emissions.

While progress has been made, there's still more to do

Even though the region is a national leader in arresting the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, current efforts fall far short of what is needed to meet carbon reduction targets established by state law. Moreover, within 25 years, the population is expected to grow by one million more residents. As the region struggles to accommodate this growth, energy instability and climate change will prompt a rethinking of everything from where people live to where they get their food to how they get around.

Metro is working with community and business leaders and elected officials across the region to address climate change and meet reduction goals mandated by the Oregon Legislature. Learn about the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project. Go

Regional greenhouse gas inventory

Residents and businesses in the Portland metropolitan region are responsible for an estimated 31 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. In 2010, Metro completed a greenhouse gas inventory for the region. The emissions inventory was intended to establish a snapshot of the region's carbon footprint in order to focus planning efforts to achieve long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

climate change chart Major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the Portland metropolitan region.

The study found that the three greatest sources of carbon emissions in the region are the goods and food consumed, the energy used in homes and buildings, and transportation by car and truck. Nearly half of the region's greenhouse gas emissions come from the resource extraction, manufacturing and distribution associated with materials, goods and food used in homes and businesses. These life-cycle stages – generally invisible to the end user – contribute significantly to the region's carbon footprint, yet are excluded from most greenhouse gas emissions inventories.

Download the inventory report
Download the inventory fact sheet

Metro's role

As a regional government with responsibility for land use and transportation planning as well as waste reduction and disposal, there are many ways in which Metro is providing leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

Legislative obligations Under legislation passed in 2009 (House Bill 2001), Metro, as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Portland metropolitan area, must plan for reductions in transportation-related carbon emissions. The State of Oregon will provide Metro with greenhouse gas reduction targets in 2011. Metro is actively engaged with local elected officials and advisory committees to begin the scope of work on developing scenarios for consideration in 2012.Read House Bill 2001

Planning authority Metro has a central role in planning and operating the systems of land use, transportation and waste management for the region. The region's long-range planning blueprint, the 2040 Growth Concept, focuses growth in downtowns and along main streets, maintaining a tight urban growth boundary. This helps protect farmland, forests and natural areas outside the boundary and focus investments, such as transportation and transit options, in existing communities, which also reduces pollution as people are able to drive less.

Education and data provision Metro provides valuable data, like the regional greenhouse gas inventory, and technical analysis tools to inform its on-going collaborations with other regional partners in resource efficiency, economic development, planning for livability and climate action.

Strategies for change

Putting protection and preparedness in place

Metro and local communities are working to minimize regional carbon pollution emissions, but there remains a need to begin to put plans and systems in place for responding to the changes to the environment that are already inevitable. Metro is partnering with local universities and agencies to develop a climate preparedness strategy for the Lower Willamette River Basin. This strategy will identify local impacts, assess the region's risks and vulnerabilities, and develop recommendations for climate change preparation including minimizing risks to natural, built, human and economic systems.Learn more

Creating a climate prosperity plan

Residents of the region appreciate that the things they can do to protect ecosystems, conserve energy and reduce harmful emissions translates into savings for their household. That's why Metro worked with regional business leaders, local government partners, educational institutions and the Portland Oregon Sustainability Institute to develop the Portland Metro Climate Prosperity Strategy. This strategy outlines actions to realize green savings, capitalize on green economic opportunities, and groom green talent - all through a carbon reduction lens. Download the document

Taking individual and community action

Through a variety of programs and campaigns, Metro is working to ensure that the residents of the region understand the connections between their individual behavior and its impact on the environment and the family budget. Metro's recycling information, alternative transportation tools, and conservation education programs help the region's residents know what they can do to emit less carbon from their homes and workplaces.

Video presentation

Making the case for climate action – The science and implications 

Dr. William Moomaw
Founding director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University

Presentation to the Metro Policy Advisory Committee and Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation at their climate change workshop on April 2, 2010 (1 hr 39 min)

To view PDF files, download free Adobe Reader. To translate PDF files into text to assist visually-impaired users, visit

To view MOV files, download free QuickTime.

Related Documents

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Patty Unfred

Related Internet links

Green project

garbage truck

Rollin' clean

Learn how Metro and partners are helping the region breathe easier by putting pollution-curbing filters on diesel garbage trucks. Go

Leading the nation

Compact growth helps reduce driving

While the average American drives more miles every year, the average number of miles driven by residents of the region has been declining for more than a decade.

by the numbers


Percent of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions generated by transportation - mainly by on-road vehicles and air travel.

Featured viewpoint

Addressing climate change really gets to the heart of Metro's mission of preserving and enhancing the quality of life and the environment. There is no more important legacy we could leave for future generations. We can also create jobs and save incredible amounts of money by conserving energy and developing alternatives.

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