[You can read all of the Mercurys Top Stories of 2021 here.eds]
2021 brought deadly heatwaves to the region, following last year’s historic wildfires. As the effects of climate change became more obvious, the city took unprecedented action against one of the major polluters. This program funded its first round of eco energy funding to frontline communities. Youth climate activists pushed for leaders to take swifter action to lower the state’s carbon emissions.
Zenith Energy Challenges Permits DenialsAfter years of community pressure, the Portland City Council decided to deny Zenith Energy a land use permit in 2021. This was necessary for Zenith Energy to operate its Northwest Portland facility. The city denied Zenith the permit, citing a conflict in the city’s climate goals. Zenith Energy was now at risk of closing its Portland operations. Zenith launched a legal challenge against it. A final court decision about whether Zenith’s permit was denied by the city is expected to be made in 2022.
Students in Portland Demand that the City Take Action Against Climate ChangeMany thousand of Portland students marched out of class on September 24, in support for Portland’s Youth Climate Strike. This is a global movement to combat climate change. Thousands of students marched from Portland to City Hall to demand that local leaders take more action to reduce regional carbon emissions and slow the effects of climate changes. This is not about policy. It is also about letting our leaders understand that we won’t accept their inaction. Adah Crandall, a 15-year-old strike organizer, stated that this was about pressuring our leaders to take faster action to reduce regional emissions and slow the impacts of climate change.
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Portland Clean Energy Grants Reach Beneficiaries: The Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF), a local program that provides eco-energy grants to communities, funded by a tax on major retailersIn 2021 grants were first distributed. This program is designed to invest in low-income communities and communities of colour most directly affected by climate change. Each grant went towards projects that improved energy efficiency, reduced or captured carbon emissions, and helped diversify green energy careers. In 2022, PCEF will distribute grants totaling $100 million.
Portland is hit by a deadly heatwave: The heatwave that was fueled by Portland’s climate change at June’s end claimed the lives of more than 60 people in Multnomah County. A county investigation revealed that most of the victims died in their own homes without air conditioning. This led to programs like PCEFs Heat Response Program, which will distribute 15,000 portable cooling units over the next five-years to tenants. Oregonians also had conversations about how to better inform residents of cooling centers and identify those who are in need of assistance during extreme heat events.
Portlands Urban Farmers Face Climate Change Realities:Farmers are being forced to adapt to climate change-caused changes in the Pacific Northwest to maintain their crops. Urban farmers, who tend to grow a smaller number of crops, are more flexible by nature and can adapt to changing seasons. Oregon’s vineyards are studying Australia and other countries to see how wine styles may change as the state becomes more smoky.