After four years of community conversations and careful research, Metro released a draft Climate Smart Strategy Sept. 15, kicking off a public comment period that runs through Oct. 30.
Metro staff report that the draft approach brings good news: by building existing plans that communities have set for themselves, the region can exceed a greenhouse gas reduction target set by the state in 2009.
Read an overview of the draft approach
A shared approach
In 2009, the Oregon Legislature directed Metro to find a strategy to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks by 20 percent by 2035. Ever since, Metro and partners around the region have worked together on the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project: testing various combinations of policies and plans to see how they would help meet the legislature's target.
With the guidance of leaders and the public around the region, Metro narrowed down the options from more than 100 to three, and finally one. This "draft approach" builds on plans for transportation, land use, and technology that local communities, the region and the state have already adopted.
Take a short survey about the approach at makeagreatplace.org
Good news, but work to do
Metro tested the draft approach over the summer, and returned what leaders were hoping to hear: if the draft approach is implemented, the region will achieve a 29 percent reduction in per capita greenhouse gas emissions – well exceeding the state's target.
Moreover, project staff report, the draft approach also helps communities accomplish a host of other goals, including reducing air pollution, helping people live healthier lives, saving households and businesses money and supporting a strong economy.
"The news we have is good," said Metro's Climate Smart program manager, Kim Ellis. "If we build the kinds of downtowns, employment areas and transportation options that communities across the region have already said they want, we will more than meet our target to reduce emissions."
Ellis noted that a lot of community and local government input throughout the process helped shape the draft approach. The public comment period now open will help further shape how the approach looks when the Metro Council considers it for adoption in December.
But the work won't end there. Leaders will need to continue working together to find resources necessary to fully implement the approach. "We found that we will fall short of the state target and many other desired outcomes if we continue investing in transportation at current levels," Ellis said.
Once adopted, the approach will also be integrated in future regional planning efforts like the 2018 Regional Transportation Plan.
"The real work begins when an approach is adopted. The region will need to commit together to making these plans a reality," Ellis said. "So we need the public to help us. Do these look like the right balance of investments? What actions should be a priority in the next five years? What is most important for the region to measure in monitoring our progress?"
There are two ways to comment on the draft approach between Sept. 15 and Oct. 30.
One is a quick online survey at makeagreatplace.org, where the public can review draft policies and provide thoughts on how they should be implemented.
For those wanting to provide more detailed input, project staff have posted the draft approach and implementation recommendations including amendments to the Regional Framework Plan that will guide Metro's implementation of the approach; a toolbox of possible actions that the region and its various partners can undertake in the next five years; and a performance monitoring and reporting approach that will help leaders gauge progress in the coming years.
After the public comment period ends on Oct. 30, Metro's policy advisory committees will consider the public comments in November before making a recommendation to the Metro Council in December. If the Council adopts the approach, Metro will then submit it to state regulators in January.
Learn more about the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project