Alan R.P. Journet Ph.D.
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
February 18th 2023
Chair Sollman and members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment:
I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN), an organization of over 2,000 rural Southern Oregonians who are concerned about the climate crisis and urge statewide action to address it. The mission of SOCAN is to promote awareness and understanding of the science of global warming and its climate chaos consequences and stimulate individual and collective action to address it. Since rural Oregonians occupy the frontlines in experiencing the impact of the drought, shrinking snowpack, wildfires and extreme weather that the climate crisis imposes, we are strongly committed to statewide action. For this reason, we strongly support SB 522 as it stands, and will even moreso if it is strengthened as anticipated.
In 2007, as a result of HB3543, Oregon established a purely voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan that would reduce emissions 75% below 1990 levels by 2050, established the Oregon Global Warming Commission to advise and encourage emissions reductions, and established the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI) at OSU. While OCCRI has been a huge success at disseminating research findings on the ongoing climate crisis, the OGWC has exhibited stellar service in promoting action to address the crisis, the voluntary program itself has failed to meet its interim targets and exhibited no likelihood of achieving its 2050 goal until the agencies developed programs in response to Governor Browns Executive Order 20-04. Since it became abundantly clear many years ago that the 2007 voluntary program was failing, time and again the legislature has been presented with comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions reduction proposals, only for passage of these to be thwarted by legislators engaging in campaigns of misinformation and disinformation to defeat them culminating in their defeating democracy by undertaking walk-outs.
We understand the commonly articulated refrain that Oregon’s climate pollution represents a very small percentage of U.S. total emissions, and a minuscule proportion of global emissions. However, we reject the amoral and unethical claims that this means Oregon has no responsibility to act to reduce our emissions. By analogy, most of us individually contribute an inconsequential amount to the state or federal Treasury in our taxes. Yet this does not mean that we are not ethically and legally responsible for paying our share. The same principle applies to reducing our statewide emissions. If we are to urge other states and nations to do their share to protect our state and our planet from the ravages of climate change, we must first do our share.
Now, thanks to agency programs developed in response to EO 20-04, Oregon has returned to its rightful place as a national leader in addressing the climate crisis. Unfortunately, while huge steps have been taken, we still are not quite where we need to be. In its seminal explication of necessary goals, the IPCC indicated that to limit global warming to 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial revolution levels, we need to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 (IPCC 2018). This means that anthropogenic (human-induced) emissions are balanced by the capture and storage (sequestration) of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. If Oregon is to contribute its share to this global goal, the same should be the case for our statewide goal. Clearly, therefore, the 2007 HB3543 goal is inadequate. By the same token, the goal established in Governor Brown’s EO 20-04 is also inadequate.
As a result, SOCAN supports the language of SB 522 that Oregon’s emissions reduction goal should be increased to at least 95% below the 1990 level by 2050 with the allowance that this will be adjusted as our scientific understanding advances.
One of the commonly held climate science misconceptions is that the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are interchangeable synonyms. This is not the case. Rather, a correct understanding of the issue is depicted below:
The primary driver of the process is the increasing human-induced concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This leads to global warming. Global warming then leads to climate change, in many cases resulting from the added heat energy that results from the atmospheric component of global warming. A different problem resulting from emitted carbon dioxide dissolving in our oceans is its conversion to carbonic acid resulting in ocean acidification. This illustrates why efforts to mitigate global warming through Solar Radiation Management (reflecting incoming radiation back into space) will be completely ineffective at mitigating ocean acidification. Indeed, if such efforts encourage a business-as-usual approach to fossil fuel use, ocean acidification will only become more severe.
There are essentially two responses we can undertake to the climate crisis. The response about which we are most often concerned is the effort to reduce our emissions – known as mitigation. The other response involves preparing ourselves and our natural systems to survive and thrive in the global warming that has occurred and is inevitable – known as adaptation. Since the charge to the OGWC has always been to promote both mitigation and adaptation, it certainly makes great sense to adjust the name to Oregon Climate Action Commission since such a name better reflects this reality.
For these reasons, SOCAN supports the effort embodied in SB 522
IPCC 2018 Global Warming of 1.5⁰C. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/#:~:text=Limiting%20warming%20to%201.5%C2%B0C%20implies%20reaching%20net%20zero,particularly%20methane%20(high%20confidence)