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Planning for Climate Change

View of wind turbines overlooking a farmLargely due to pollution from human activities, global temperatures are rising and extreme weather events are growing more frequent and severe. The climate changes already underway, and the coming climate disruption, are a major challenge for today’s Oregonians. DLCD uses many strategies to reduce climate change and respond to its effects.

Climate Change Resources
Combatting Climate Change is Central to DLCD's Work
Climate Change Adaptation Framework

On March 10, 2020 Governor Kate Brown issued an Executive Order on climate change. Read the order or watch the press conference (starts at 16:49 of video; doesn't work in Chrome).

Climate Change in Oregon

Climate change's effects are already being felt by Oregonians. Snowpack is declining, summer streamflow is lowering, wildfire activity is increasing, sea level is rising, and coastal waters are acidifying. The future is likely to have:

  • More summer droughts
  • More frequent and longer forest fires
  • Greater vulnerability of forests to insects and disease
  • Water resource conflicts
  • Longer and more intense allergy seasons
  • Decreased water quality
  • More stress on fish, including salmon
  • Higher sea levels and more erosion in coastal areas
  • More frequent and harmful floods


Third Oregon Climate Assessment Report (2017)
Cool Planning: A Handbook on Local Strategies to Slow Climate Change (2011)

Working to Cut Pollution through
Land Use and Transportation Planning

Transportation is the largest contributor to global warming in Oregon, making up about 40% of Oregon's climate emissions. While other agencies work to change how much cars and trucks pollute, DLCD works to increase transportation choices and reduce how often Oregonians must drive.

Well-designed communities allow Oregonians to choose public transit, biking, or walking for errands, outings, and trips to work, school, and places of worship. Oregon’s urban growth boundaries and planning framework are a proven way to cut greenhouse gas pollution from transportation.

Through grants and technical assistance to local governments, DLCD and our partner agency the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) help create communities with shorter and less frequent car trips by implementing Oregon’s planning goals related to transportation, housing, and urban growth. Land use plans that mix housing with employment and others uses mean families no longer need to drive as much – saving them money and reducing pollution. DLCD also works with communities to place housing near transit so that residents aren’t dependent on driving. For example, the Portland region’s efforts to mix residential and employment uses and encouraging other means of travel has cut carbon emissions per capita by 22% since 1990 while saving the average household several hundred dollars a year.

DLCD has published resources for cities, such as Cool Planning: A Handbook on Local Strategies to Slow Climate Change (2011). We have also had statewide tours from national speakers, and hire consultants to help cities increase housing and transportation choices through ODOT and DLCD’s Transportation and Growth Management Program and other planning grants.

With ODOT, DLCD helps lead the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative, which provides a roadmap for reducing global warming pollution from transportation. Through assessment, scenario planning tools, and technical assistance, our agencies provide guidance on how much certain action cut pollution. Using the tools, the initiative allows communities to identify feasible ways to reduce the pollution from driving, such as reforming parking management, changing land use patterns, and increasing downtown housing.

For more detailed information about land use, transportation, carbon emissions, and greenhouse gas reduction, see the Land Use and Transportation Planning for Climate Change web page. 

In September 2019, Governor Brown gave direction for four agencies to implement Oregon's Statewide Transportation Strategy to cut transportation pollution.

Addressing the Biggest Climate Risks
Natural Hazards Planning

Scientists project climate change will make Oregon's natural hazards more frequent and severe, and to bring new natural hazards. For the State of Oregon, DLCD builds and maintains the Oregon Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, which identifies eleven natural hazards: coastal erosion, drought, dust storms, earthquakes, wildfire, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, windstorms, and winter storms. This plan includes a description of each of the hazards, and explains what can be done to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of damage to life, property, and resources.

As a result of a collaborative effort between Oregon's state agencies and the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute (OCCRI), the Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework was written and published in 2010. The report provides a framework for the continued development of strategies and plans to address future climate conditions in the state. (See more, below).

Helping the Most Impacted Communities
Coastal Management and Climate Change

For the Oregon coast, sea level rise will likely be one of the most significant effects of climate change, along with increasing extreme storms and wave heights. These forces can make erosion and other coastal hazards worse.

On the Oregon coast, sea level rise means waves will break closer to the coastline and reach bluff bases more frequently, increasing the rate of erosion and cliff retreat. Dunes are also predicted to retreat under rising sea levels and larger waves. Dunes provide a natural buffer against erosion and flooding. Their retreat will jeopardize their natural buffering function as well as any development located behind the dunes. With higher sea levels, especially in areas with hardened shorelines (e.g. riprap), beach accessibility is likely to decline as the width of the beach decreases. This is problematic not only for people who wish to access the beach, but also for marine animals who utilize the beach, such as seals for haul-out sites, and other tidally-dependent organisms. Hardened shorelines can also prevent habitat (like dunes or wetlands) from migrating upland with sea level rise. With increased levels of erosion and flooding, the threat to oceanfront development will increase, including to private property, and public facilities and infrastructure.

One way to address climate change through coastal land use planning is to understand public assets at risk of flooding now and into the future from sea level rise. DLCD's Oregon Coastal Management Program (OCMP) developed an exposure inventory of Oregon's estuaries to serve as a statewide resource for sea level rise planning in and around estuaries. This exposure inventory determines the assets and geographies most likely to be affected by flooding (driven by sea level rise) and prioritized areas to focus future resources and investigation.

Climate change is also increasing the acidity of coastal waters, making shellfish and other marine and estuarine species more vulnerable. DLCD staff participate on the Oregon Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Task Force and help maintain its web site. Additionally, DLCD coastal staff provide ongoing support, education, outreach, and technical assistance to various agencies and organizations on climate change topics at the national, state, and local level.

Additionally, OCMP staff provide ongoing support, education, outreach, and technical assistance to various agencies and organizations on climate change topics at the national, state, and local level.

Identifying Risks and Responses
Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework

At the direction of Governor Brown, DLCD is coordinating the State of Oregon’s work on the Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework. The Framework explores the risks of climate change in Oregon and identifies how State agencies can most effectively respond to those risks. 

We are working with 24 state agencies – from Business Oregon to the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Forestry to the Oregon Department of Energy, and many more. DLCD reviewed climate adaptation plans from 17 other states to identify the most effective strategies and approaches to government work and, over a period of ten months, vetted those strategies with a multi-agency group. The 2020 Framework builds on a 2010 Framework document, and will be adopted as part of Oregon’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Updating Oregon’s Planning Program
for Climate Change

In late 2020, DLCD will meet with stakeholders to discuss how Oregon’s planning program might further reduce climate pollution and better prepare the state’s environment and economy for the impacts of climate change. While the statewide planning program addresses climate change in multiple ways, the nineteen goals defining the program predate today’s overwhelming science on the causes and risks of climate change. This exploratory discussion will not lead to revisions of any of the state’s planning goals but will serve to identify potential issues and areas for further work.

Stay Up-To-Date on DLCD's Climate Work

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Christine Shirley
Climate Change Resilience Coordinator
Phone: 503-934-0027

Cody Meyer
Land Use and Transportation Planner
Phone: 503-934-0005

Tricia Sears
Natural Hazards Planner
Phone: 503-934-0031

Meg Reed
Coastal Shores Specialist

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