Sep 25, 2020
There’s more urgency for climate action in Oregon than ever before
Statewide coalition urges more action to reduce climate pollution and transition to clean energy
We’re living in a climate emergency. The unprecedented outbreak of climate change-fueled wildfires across Oregon this summer brings a fierce urgency to the movement for climate action at every level of government, as our state faces lost lives and communities, and the fallout from weeks of hazardous smoke.
Marking a year since #FridaysForFuture climate action demonstrations filled the streets in at least 19 cities and towns across Oregon, bringing out more than 20,000 Oregonians from Seaside to Roseberg, Portland to La Grande, members of the Renew Oregon coalition demand to know how state leaders will continue to answer the call, especially in the legislature, which has failed to pass significant climate protection laws through four sessions.
“Oregon needs candidates who will fight for our future,” said Doug Moore, Executive Director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV). “We’re running out of time to act, and, as the wildfires have shown us, the climate crisis is happening here and now, and causing major damage to communities across our state. Who we elect today will determine what kind of future we’re leaving for our kids. We can’t afford candidates who aren’t willing to take bold action and put people over polluters.”
“With all of the crises we’re facing now, from the climate fires to systemic racism to the pandemic, we must acknowledge they’re the result of delayed action by those in power who knew better and chose not to act,” said Eric Richardson, Executive Director of NAACP Eugene-Springfield. “Now we call on the leaders of today to get it right. Use the technology and the policy tools we have to fix these problems despite what the special interests are whispering in your ears. We’ve kicked the cans down the road for too long and we’re out of road. We refuse to suffer any longer from your inaction.”
“These wildfires might be the worst you can remember, but what if for young people in Oregon, this is one of the mildest of our lifetimes? With each year of inaction on climate change, the likelihood grows more certain that our future will be unrecognizable,” said Laura Krouse, Oregon Organizer for Our Climate. “We strike on Fridays because there’s nothing more important than demanding a livable climate and a future we can thrive in. We know a clean energy transition is possible. It’s up to those in power today to make it happen before it’s too late.”
The Oregon Climate Action Plan, Governor Brown’s executive order 20-04, is a huge leap forward from where Oregon was a year ago in terms of climate action. We’re improving our transportation, businesses, and buildings to lower pollution over time with clean, renewable options that will save money, protect health, and create jobs. Still, there’s much more to be done to make a rapid, equitable transition to a clean energy economy.
“Burning fossil fuels spews most of the climate pollution that is drying out our forests and landscapes, making them a tinderbox waiting for a spark. To avoid future summers full of drought, heat waves and fire, we have to address our current reliance on fossil fuels to power our economy,” said Meredith Connolly, Oregon Director of Climate Solutions. “The good news is that we know the clean energy solutions and technologies needed, and they reduce folks’ energy bills and air pollution. What we need is political vision and leadership to accelerate the transition to this clean energy future.”
“Our communities are suffering from government inaction in crisis after crisis, yet we’re still out there working to put food on the table for our fellow Oregonians and the country,” said Reyna Lopez, Executive Director of PCUN, Oregon’s farmworkers union. “Our farmworkers are breathing the wildfire smoke, our homes endangered by the flames. All while coronavirus is often forcing a choice between being paid and protecting our health. Our organization is doing everything to help, but we can’t keep it up without much bigger, structural changes-- a national response to the pandemic and action on every level to stop climate change megafires from becoming normal.”
“Big polluters and their allies in the state continue to brush aside climate change as a problem for future generations to deal with, at the same time we are living through a climate catastrophe right here in Oregon. Continued climate inaction is not simply unacceptable; it is inhumane,” said Diana Nuñez, Executive Director of Oregon Environmental Council (OEC). “The only “victory” climate obstructionists in the Oregon legislature can claim is denying Oregonians clean breathable air, a stable economy and a healthy climate.”
“We need elected leaders who can both respond to the emergencies at hand and make laws today to protect the land, water, and air for generations to come. Our indigenous leaders know we only inherit this earth from our future generations - our children. We call them the Seventh Generation. We know our Creator bestowed this responsibility to each one of us,” said Don Sampson, Climate Change Project Director for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians “We show how much we love our children by how we care for the earth they will inherit. Yet young people are forced out into the streets to demand action on climate change because politicians aren’t doing enough to protect the generations ahead. They’re stuck in the short term, responding to crisis after crisis without a vision for the future.”
“There’s no dividing lines when it comes to climate change. We’ve seen it first hand this month with communities large and small harmed by wildfire,” said Dylan Kruse, Director of Government Affairs & Program Strategy at Sustainable Northwest “Taking significant action in Oregon is taking responsibility for our share of the problem, leading by example, so our forests, farmland, and communities remain viable for living and working for generations to come.”