Newsletter: Oregon shows how to broaden the coalition for ambitious climate policy

Take a look at what Oregon’s doing.

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If you want a model of how to build a broad coalition around aggressive climate policy, take a look at what Oregon’s doing.

The state’s Democratic majority failed to pass an economy-wide carbon cap-and-trade bill in 2019 and 2020. Now the legislature is on the verge of passing HB 2021, a more targeted clean power and environmental justice policy, Jeff reports.

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The bill would cut carbon emissions from Oregon’s electricity system 80 percent by 2030, 90 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2040

  • Utilities Portland General Electric and Pacific Power, which will have to execute that directive, support the legislation.
  • That’s one of many examples nationwide of electric utilities pushing for more aggressive decarbonization timelines.
  • The bill bans new natural gas plant construction within the state. Oregon already eliminated in-state coal plants.

HB 2021 expands the coalition by setting high labor standards for new renewables construction that will result. It requires that utilities listen to communities affected by power plant pollution as they plan future energy infrastructure. It also directs funding to community-based clean energy projects, which also help with disaster resilience. And it has cost caps to ensure that customer rates don’t rise dramatically.

The catch: By focusing on the grid, the bill doesn’t decarbonize buildings, transportation, industry or land use. 

  • Those sectors are crucial for comprehensive climate policy.
  • But, having a clear pathway to carbon-free electricity is crucial for later electrifying the rest of the economy. 

Speaking of those hard to decarbonize sectors of the economy…

Iron and steel production accounts for 7% of global carbon emissions, and that’ll have to change.

Let Canary Media take you on a journey to a highly photogenic corner of Sweden that’s become a hotbed for carbon-free iron and steel production. European industrial consortiums are pumping real money into this, and their early test factories are getting results.

Julian Spector is an editor at Canary Media and reports on the rise of clean energy. He worked at Greentech Media for nearly five years, and before that he reported for CityLab at The Atlantic.