City of Portland and Multnomah County, Oregon Climate Action Plan 2015

The City of Portland and Multnomah County, Oregon 2015 Climate Action Plan (CAP) presents a plan to reduce local carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 with specific objectives to achieve by 2030. The Plan also identifies over 100 strategies to both reduce local carbon emissions, and adapt to and prepare for climate change in the short-term. The CAP states that its success is dependent on ability to create jobs, advance social equity, improve public health, strengthen natural systems and enhance quality of life, as co-benefits of these mitigation and adaptation strategies.   

The CAP’ strategies are distributed in the categories of:

  • Buildings and Energy
  • Urban Form (Land use) and Transportation
  • Consumption and Solid Waste
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Urban Forest, Natural Systems and Carbon Sequestration
  • Climate Change Preparation
  • Community Engagement, Outreach and Education
  • Local Government Operations
  • Implementation

Each section describes the sector related greenhouse gas emissions, 2030 objectives, and five-year priorities. 

This climate action plan seeks to prioritize underserved and underrepresented people and places. Of particular focus is East Portland, which struggles more with poverty and is home to more people of color than the rest of the city.

The plan ties equity to a number of adaptation strategies outlined in the document. For example, it suggests focusing emergency plans to minimize impacts to the most vulnerable. Portland also worries about population growth as migrants seek more temperate weather, which could put pressure on housing costs and affordability. 

While not specific to adaptation, the plan recognizes that addressing the social determinate of health will make Portland's residents more prepared for climate impacts. It also discusses expanding the urban forest and green infrastructure in lower-income areas where heat stress might be more severe.  

The City of Portland completed a case study that analyzes and describes the steps they took to ensure equity was central to this plan. This review can be found here

Climate Change Preparation section is focused on adaptation planning through the objectives:

  • Reduce risks and impacts from heat, drought and wildfire by preparing for hotter, drier summers with increased incidence of extreme heat days.
  • Reduce risks and impacts from flooding and landslides by preparing for warmer winters with the potential for more intense rain events.
  • Build City and County staff and community capacity to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change.

Specific actions are delineated for each objective. In addition, a Climate Change Preparation Strategy was developed, which outlines more detailed versions of the key actions highlighted in the Climate Change Preparation section of the CAP.

The Urban Forest, Natural Systems and Carbon Sequestration section provides strategies to expand the urban forest canopy, protect natural systems, and utilize green infrastructure. These actions will:

  • help reduce carbon in the atmosphere by sequestering and storing carbon;
  • provide water retention, wildlife habitat and opportunities to grow food;
  • reduce flooding and provide shade (through green infrastructure), reducing risk for communities across a range of issues;
  • create opportunities to address existing disparities for low-income populations and communities of color related to tree canopy cover, access to nature, air quality and asthma rates;
  • and improve access to nature leading to increased physical activity and improved air quality, which positively influence health outcomes.

The 2015 Climate Action Plan updates the prior versions by presenting new strategies to advance equity through climate action - by prioritizing actions and investments to reduce disparities and improve access to opportunities for under-served communities. The CAP describes that a key means of dealing with these disparities is to increase vegetation and decrease the coverage of paved surfaces, especially in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. For example, strategies are presented for increasing tree canopy in under-served communities that can provide vital shading, and eco-roofs to help reduce some of the impacts of extreme heat.

Overall, to address social equity, the City and County are working to:

  • Increase access to transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and other transportation options.
  • Reduce exposure to pollution and excessive heat.
  • Improve access to parks and other natural resources.
  • Reduce burdens of housing and energy costs.

The case study “Climate Action Through Equity” was also developed to demonstrate specifically how equity was integrated into all levels of Portland and Multnomah County’s 2015 Climate Action Plan. 

Portland and Multnomah County have committed to reducing local carbon emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2030. Since 1990, total local carbon emissions have declined by 21 percent while nearly 90,000 more jobs were added to the economy and the population grew by 33 percent.



Publication Date: June 2015

Related Organizations:

  • City of Portland, Oregon
  • Multnomah County, Oregon

Related Resources:

Related Toolkits:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


Go To Resource