By Rose Anderson

The dangers of anthropogenic climate change can be viewed as both a challenge and an opportunity. Each state in the US has unique opportunities to prosper by participating in the reduction of green house gas (GHG) emissions. In Oregon, there are many unique opportunities to strengthen the Oregon economy and improve the well-being of current and future generations through GHG reduction.

Why Investment in GHG Reduction Makes Sense for Oregonians?

• In Oregon, there are more than 188,128 jobs in a representative group of job areas that could see job growth or wage increases as a result of action on global warming.
• Energy efficiency is an investment that can make businesses money in the long run. The government subsidizes the cost of projects in energy efficiency in several ways. State and federal grants, loans, and a 35-50 percent tax credit are available in Oregon for businesses and individuals.
• For businesses, taking action on global warming can do a lot to improve image and reputation. Economic opportunities exist for Oregon businesses to make their products more competitive in today’s market where climate conscious products are appealing.
• Policy in Oregon is moving toward requiring businesses to be more efficient and emit fewer GHGs. Companies that adapt to these trends now will have an advantage as new regulations are created.
• Taking action on global warming is taking responsibility to help avoid extreme weather damage, drought, health risks, and many other negative effects of global warming. In the long run, strategic action will be much cheaper than inaction.

“We believe Oregon’s entrepreneurs, supported by Oregon’s academic and technical capabilities, can prosper by positioning themselves at the leading edge of change.” -From the Governors Advisory Report on Global Warming

Specific Economic Opportunities for Action on Global Warming in Oregon Projects and investments that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequester carbon from the atmosphere can end up benefiting the economy as well. Highlighted here are five areas of potential GHG abatement in the US and how they apply to the Oregon economy.

1. Improve the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances. The construction of energy efficient homes has the potential to be a great source of economic savings to Oregon residents as well as a significant way to reduce GHG emissions. In Oregon, construction is a quickly growing industry. In 2006, Oregon had the third fastest construction growth in the nation. Building energy efficient homes from scratch is much less expensive than retrofitting them. Every home built without energy efficiency in mind is a lost chance for this very effective option to be utilized. An investment of less than $750 in building a home can improve heating and cooling efficiency by 6-20 percent.

2. Increase fuel efficiency in vehicles and reduce carbon emissions of vehicle fuels. There are over 3.1 million vehicles registered for roadway use in Oregon. Oregonians spend over $2 billion on transportation fuels each year, and transportation is Oregon’s largest contributor to poor air quality. Biodiesel is a great alternative fuel in Oregon because many farmers can grow the canola used to make biodiesel as a rotational crop. The use of biodiesel is an opportunity for Oregonians to purchase fuel that brings money to the local economy while reducing GHG emissions. The state government offers financial incentives for projects involving biodiesel, including a 35% tax credit.

3. Increase efficiency in energy intensive portions of the industrial sector: Reducing GHG emissions from the industrial sector involves a combination of increasing efficiency and preventing the release of GHGs as they are created. Considered together, the combination of all industrial GHG abatement techniques is substantial, but comes at a slight cost. In 1999, industry made up 88 percent of Oregon’s 109 billion dollar-a-year economy and used 31 percent of the state’s energy supply. Improving the efficiency of this vast sector of the Oregon economy can result in lasting savings as well as continuous reductions in GHG emissions for Oregon businesses. Improving energy efficiency in industrial facilities is a money-saver in the long run, and in Oregon the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) provides eligible businesses with comprehensive industrial assessments at no cost, yielding about $55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer assessed.

4. Expand and enhance carbon sinks. Increasing carbon sequestration is achievable through a combination of forest management and agricultural practices. Forest management can be a relatively inexpensive way to sequester carbon, and it could become very profitable for the forestry industry if forestry is included in the Western Climate Initiative cap and trade program. Agricultural practices such as no-till farming and organic farming can sequester more carbon while improving soil quality and in some cases improving profits.

5. Reduce the carbon intensity of electric power production. In Oregon, energy production is the largest source of CO2 emissions. 42% of Oregon’s CO2 emissions are created in the process of electric power production. Among the most effective options for reducing GHG emissions from energy production in Oregon are geothermal power, biomass, flat solar, hydropower, wind power, and increased energy efficiency. Methane digesters are an economically viable way to reduce GHG emissions from cattle, Oregon’s second biggest commodity. Methane digesters help with nutrient management, reduce GHG emissions, produce methane-based electricity for on-farm use, and possibly even create income from energy sold back to utility companies.

This Article is a courtesy of the Oregon Environmental Council (