Check out all of the Mercury's 2018 election endorsements! From the race for Oregon governor to the fight for affordable housing, we've got you covered.
Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounded a red alert for our overpopulated planet. Without massive, worldwide changes, the IPCC warned, the already lethal effects of climate change—hotter temperatures, bigger wildfires, and intensifying hurricanes—will include longer droughts, rising sea levels, and climate refugees fleeing widespread starvation. None of those predictions are new, but the timeline for them is shorter than anyone expected: two decades.
If history is any indication, the IPCC’s report will be, for all intents and purposes, ignored. Climate change is so horrific—and fighting it on any meaningful scale is so mind-bogglingly difficult—that it’s easy to pretend it will only affect others, that there’s no way our children will die of thirst or be burned alive. But some of them will, and the very entities that could do something to stop it—our national leaders and the corporations that, in many ways, hold just as much power—choose to do nothing.
No one’s pretending that Measure 26-201, which would establish a Portland Clean Energy Initiative will single-handedly avert our Mad Max future. But it is doing something.
If approved by voters, the initiative will collect a meager fee—a 1 percent “business license surcharge”—to Portland retailers that have annual total revenues of at least $1 billion. That fund would help weatherize Portlanders’ homes, train Portlanders for green jobs, and increase the city’s use of clean energy and our production of locally grown food. Notably, the surcharge won’t apply to the basic goods everyone needs—like groceries and health care—and just as notably, the fund will prioritize helping Portland’s low-income residents and people of color, the very populations most susceptible to climate change.
This is a tiny expense for a larger good, and for anyone paying attention, it’s a no-brainer: Measure 26-201 is championed by a wide swath of environmental and social organizations from the Sierra Club to the Oregon Food Bank, and a slew of forward-thinking politicians and experts, from Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, to Senator Jeff Merkley.
Meanwhile, the measure’s opponents include a cartoonish lineup of the big businesses that can, and should, do more: Amazon, Comcast, Walmart, Standard Insurance, US Bank, Papé, the Greenbrier Companies, Bank of America, and Kroger, the retail giant that owns Fred Meyer.
In the Mercury’s endorsement interviews, the only wobbly opposition to Measure 26-201 came from the Portland Business Alliance (PBA), a lobbying group with a history of fighting common-sense efforts to make Portland more environmentally friendly and healthy, from Better Naito to earned sick leave. PBA’s new president and CEO, Andrew Hoan, vowed that a 1 percent tax on some of the world’s biggest corporations would be directly passed on to Portlanders—but that’s an unproven argument that, in a time of need, encourages people to do nothing.
Don’t fall for it. Do something. Vote yes on Measure 26-201.