Sep 04, 2020
100% Clean Economy: What does it look like?
There is a lot wrong with how we currently power our lives and economy, and a lot of people are suffering the consequences. Our elected leaders and big businesses have failed for a generation to listen to science and deal head-on with the leading cause of the climate crisis-- burning fossil fuels.
There’s hope, because we’re not waiting on some big breakthrough. We can build a 100% clean economy with technology available to us today. The Oregon Climate Action Plan was adopted earlier this year. If it lives up to its ambitions, it will propel us toward a 100% Clean Economy.
What’s possible: A vision of Oregon in 2050
The year is 2050. We’ve spent the last 30 years, since the Oregon Climate Action Plan was adopted, transforming our economy by following OCAP's directives. The results: our air is cleaner than it has been in decades, which has lowered health problems and healthcare costs for things like childhood asthma and chronic breathing problems like COPD. Heart disease and cancer rates have fallen as pollutants like soot, sulfur, arsenic, and mercury have disappeared from the air.
If people are buying a new car or truck, there are only zero-emissions electric or hydrogen-fuel options. Most folks don’t own gas-burning cars anymore, which means the cost of driving around has shrunk and families can spend money on other essentials or entertainment.
Car chargers are everywhere: at home, at work, around town, and along the highway.
It’s much safer and more convenient to ride a bike or walk to school or the store with improved bike lanes, traffic signals, and sidewalks. More people ride the bus or train than ever before because those systems have gotten faster, reach more neighborhoods, and travel between towns in more wide-open counties, connecting communities.
Trucks, cars, buses, trains, homes, buildings, computers, appliances, phones and everything else all run on 100% clean electricity.
We use a mix of solar, wind, geothermal, wave and hydroelectric power-- all made closer to home than the energy of the past. We got rid of polluting fossil fuel gas and coal burning power plants, which polluted communities and damaged the climate.
Coming out of the pandemic recession of 2020, Oregon’s clean energy businesses boomed, fueling the economic recovery. Because our state committed to an economic future of clean energy, good-paying jobs in construction, electrical, manufacturing, design, engineering, sales, and more sprang up all over the state. Businesses required to lower their pollution through energy efficiency and clean technologies found big savings from lower energy bills. They became more competitive and resilient to future disruptions. Businesses looking to be sustainable leaders moved to Oregon where they are rewarded for their responsibility.
Where we live and work is transformed under OCAP’s guidance. New buildings are so efficient and healthy, they’re generating most of their own renewable power right on-site. Neighborhoods are filled with houses and apartment buildings with solar panels on top, electric bills are cheaper than ever before and we’ve nearly eliminated fossil fuel gas from our homes, where it was polluting the air and posing a threat to our communities.
Informed by leadership from communities most impacted by climate change, we focused our investments and attention to those communities first, making sure low-income families, frontline workers, and communities of color made the transition to clean energy and benefited from efficient, healthy housing and better transportation options.
Lower bills and targeted job opportunities helped lift people up, and with good-paying jobs they had more money to spend in their local economies, driving more success.
Oregon’s landscapes, forests, and farms look different than before. Many farms are energy independent, with solar, wind, and battery power they “grow” their own electricity, which powers trucks, tractors, and farm equipment. Farmworkers no longer have to breathe diesel exhaust all day long, so they're healthier.
The soil on the farms and ranches is healthier too, having been cultivated carefully to lock away greenhouse gases and retain more water and nutrients at the same time. Many Oregonians have jobs working in wetlands, rivers, and forests restoring them to robust ecosystems for cleaner drinking water, healthy salmon and trout, and helping lock away greenhouse gases inside trees and plants.
Here & Now
Again, nearly all this technology exists already. However “the market” won’t deploy it fast enough to avoid permanent climate catastrophe. It’s up to our elected leaders and environmental regulators to make our programs for reducing pollution and spurring innovation as strong as possible. And it’s up to us to raise our voices so they have no way of forgetting how many Oregonians demand a livable future. Sign the Pledge.