More than 70 Oregon Scientists and Researchers Urge Oregon Legislature to Take Strong Climate Action

Published Feb 26, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 3, 2019)—As another year of potentially destructive wildfires, reductions in snowpack and declining fisheries looms over Oregon, 71 scientists, economists and public health experts signed an open letter published today in The Oregonian and The Register-Guard calling on state legislators to take meaningful climate action this year.

The signers include experts in science, economics, public health and engineering, including Jane Lubchenco, distinguished professor in Marine Studies at Oregon State University who formerly served as the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and Martin Donohoe, adjunct faculty member in the School of Community Health at Portland State University and senior physician at Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Hospital.

The letter says, “We are deeply concerned that climate change compromises the quality of life of all Oregonians and threatens our state’s and planet’s future. The nation’s record-breaking extreme weather events of the last few years provide a sobering reminder of possible future impacts to Oregon if global warming emissions continue to rise.”

Organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the letter notes that 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.

“The latest scientific findings are sobering. If we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must reduce global warming carbon pollution as soon as possible,” said Lubchenco.

Emissions in Oregon are rising mostly due to Oregonians driving more.

“As a physician, public health expert and father, I am gravely concerned about the imminent risks posed by climate change,” said Donohoe. “I strongly urge Oregon’s leaders to make large-scale cuts to greenhouse gases and pollutants, for the sake of the public’s health, our environment and the well-being of future generations.”

Currently under consideration in the state legislature is the Clean Energy Jobs bill (House Bill 2020), which would set a statewide limit on carbon emissions via a cap and invest program. If passed, the proposed law would require about 100 companies, including manufacturers, utilities and fuel suppliers, to meet increasingly lower caps on their carbon pollution. Oregon would join California and Quebec in setting limits on carbon pollution across all sectors of the state economy. Funds from the program would be invested in local communities to create clean energy jobs and support climate preparedness, especially in low-income communities, communities of color and tribal communities. HB 2020 would accelerate progress on emissions reductions and set a goal of cutting emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“There is not only global consensus that climate change is happening and will worsen, but this letter shows there is much agreement among Oregon experts that the state must quickly do its part to stem the rise in carbon emissions,” said Jeff Bissonnette, Pacific Northwest advocate for UCS.

HB 2020 is currently being heard by the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction. The Oregon legislative session ends on June 30.

The full text of the letter and a full list of signers can be found online.