A Call to Strengthen the Clean Energy Jobs Bill

Erin is a fellow with Our Climate, working on passing the Clean Energy Jobs bill in Oregon. Erin grew up in beautiful Central Oregon and then attended Whitman College in Washington state, where she graduated with a BA in sociology and environmental studies. After college she lived and worked in Detroit, MI for six years, where she became greatly interested in social and environmental justice issues. She is now pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at Oregon State University, focusing on environmental policy. 

This summer I was sitting at my aunt’s kitchen table in Medford, Oregon, appreciating the respite of cool, clean air inside. Out the window, smoke hazily greyed the landscape, limiting visibility-- and forcing many residents indoors to avoid unhealthy air quality conditions. Despite raising their children in Medford and working and living in the community for over twenty years, my aunt and uncle are considering moving out of the area. After experiencing the past five summers choking on smoke, unable to enjoy summery blue skies, and worrying about forest fires encroaching, the uncertainty and risk of drought and fires are forcing them to consider migrating, and they are not alone in their thinking. Students at Willamette University hold a workshop to submit written testimony to strengthen the Clean Energy Jobs bill.

As more weather patterns change, shifting toward extremes, people in Oregon, across the US, and worldwide will be uprooted and will either choose or be forced to migrate. This will have enormous impacts on all aspects of our society. The Clean Energy Jobs bill is a promising solution to part of the problem of climate change. Here in Oregon, we pride ourselves with being innovative, progressive people who not only look out for our neighbors but also the bountiful natural resources in this beautiful state. Implementing this bill will showcase our ability to embrace a vision of the future that is hopeful, resilient, and solution-oriented.

Placing a price on carbon just makes sense. I’m a young person who grew up in Central Oregon and I know that the effects of climate change are real, and can have deadly consequences. Over 90 people died in California’s Camp Fire in 2018 alone, and the dangers of drought and wildfire will only increase if global warming is allowed to continue unchecked.

The Clean Energy Jobs bill proposes to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction goals of at least 45 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2035 and a reduction in total regulated emissions levels to at least 80 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2050.

But that isn’t enough according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that proposed limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to decrease some of the irreversible and catastrophic effects of climate change. To reach this goal, global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.  

That’s why we’re asking the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction to amend the Clean Energy Jobs bill to lower the suggested cap to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from covered entities goes to 0 by 2050. You can ask them to do the same by emailing a written testimony to the Committee at jccr.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov

Sequestration and mitigation of greenhouse gas emission will help our working lands, natural resources, communities and the economy in the face of climate change. Putting a price on carbon will provide assistance to households, businesses and workers impacted by the transition in this state to an economic system that allows the State of Oregon to meet the challenges of climate change with courage and collaboration.

1 Givetash, L. 2018. “It was a year of deadly wildfires. That’s likely the new normal.” NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/it-was-year-deadly-wildfires-s-likely-new-normal-n948366

2 Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C Approved by Governments. 2018. https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/

3 Picture is of Our Climate Fellows at Willamette University holding a workshop to submit written testimony asking the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction to strengthen the Clean Energy Jobs bill

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