SALEM, Ore. (November 18, 2019)—Scientists from Oregon State University and a youth climate activist called upon state legislators today to take climate action as soon as they return to session in February. Although Oregon has goals to reduce greenhouse gases to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75 percent by 2050, it is not on track to meet those goals. Emissions in Oregon are rising mostly due to Oregonians driving more.
The two scientists who met with state lawmakers at the Salem Capitol today were Dominique Bachelet, an expert on wildfire and climate change impacts, and Beverly Law, an expert on global change biology. They are two of 11,000 scientists from around the world who signed an open letter, titled “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” made public two weeks ago urging global leaders to heed scientists’ warning about climate impacts and take steps now to address the crisis.
“My work has shown significant stress to Oregon’s forests as hotter, drier conditions allow pests and diseases to spread, as well as lengthen the fire season,” said Bachelet. “Extreme climate events are becoming more frequent with heat waves and floods endangering communities across our state. Oregon’s iconic Douglas fir trees are in danger from pest outbreaks, drought and fire which threaten the communities that depend on timber production, clean water and tourism. But research alone has not resulted in the actions we need.”
A South Salem High School student, Angelique Prater, as well as Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon, joined Bachelet and Law as they visited legislators, asking them to pass a climate law in the 2020 session.
“Forty years ago, climate change trends were recognized as needing urgent action, yet we haven’t done enough to alter the greenhouse gas emissions trajectory that we are on.” said Law. “It is even more urgent now.”
Hurst said a coalition of businesses, workers, healthcare professionals, parents, farmers, ranchers and faith and community organizations will push legislators to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill in the upcoming session.
The Oregon legislature failed to pass a significant state climate policy during its 2019 session despite strong support around the state for the Clean Energy Jobs bill. Had the bill passed and been signed into law, it would have created a statewide cap-and-invest program and made Oregon the second state in the nation to establish an economywide price on carbon pollution.
The foursome delivered a copy of the global scientists’ letter to legislators. That letter was spearheaded by two other OSU professors, Bill Ripple and Christopher Wolf, known internationally for their work to raise the alarm about the threat of climate change. Ripple, Bachelet and Law are members of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Science Network, a community of more than 25,000 scientific, engineering, economic and public health experts across the U.S. who seek science-based solutions to the country’s most pressing problems.
“The scientists who signed this letter are standing ready to assist policymakers and the public in a science-based transition to a sustainable and equitable future,” said Ripple. “Now the question is, will lawmakers for the state of Oregon have the political will to enact strong legislation to help limit the extent of climate change.”