October 8, 2019

Carbon emissions have decreased even with a growing economy and population

Multnomah County, in partnership with the City of Portland, has worked hard to reduce local carbon emissions in both its operations and in the community. The 2015 Climate Action Plan commits the County and City to reducing carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Recent data compiled by the City of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability shows mixed success towards meeting this goal.

As of 2017, the most recent data available, carbon emission are in Multnomah County 15% below 1990 levels. This is a success story and a warning. The reductions to date are impressive given a 38% growth in population and the addition of 34% more jobs since 1990. Per-person emissions in Multnomah County have been reduced by 38% since 1990. However, emissions reductions overall have plateaued since 2012, with no reductions since that time. In fact, 2017 showed an uptick in overall emissions, attributable to a significant uptick in natural gas usage to heat homes and businesses during an exceptionally cold winter. More worrisome than any one year is that the overall emissions reduction trend has slowed.

2017 Carbon Emissions by Sector in Multnomah County

Reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector remain the biggest challenge to meeting the County's carbon emissions reduction goal. Transportation sector emissions are increasing dramatically, currently 8% over 1990 levels, and 14% over their lowest levels in 2012. They now account for 42% of local carbon emissions, and represent the single largest sector. In addition to continuing to make progress in other sectors, redoubling efforts to drive down transportation emissions will be a key priority for the County and City's climate work moving forward.

Read the full report here:

Carbon Emissions Report With 2017 Data (2019) (2.62 MB)