Mayor Charlie Hales made bold pledges in a speech to delegates from the United Nations Environment Programme this morning—promising that Portland city government will reduce its carbon emissions by half in 17 years, and make bicycles the preferred mode of transportation for all trips under three miles in 10 years.

Hales also made it clear that cleaning up the toxic Willamette River will be his office's top priority, though he didn't set a timeline for a Superfund cleanup deal. (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Portland Harbor companies remain mired in negotiations that have grown increasingly hostile and petty, as WW reported this morning.)

"What is critical is what we do with those rivers," Hales said. "What we do to keep them clean. What we do to bring our fish back."

Among the promises in the mayor's speech:

  • "I pledge to you that I and the Council will identify new revenue that will allow us to turn every street in Portland into a Complete Street- a street with pervious surfaces, with stormwater collection, with street trees, and with sidewalks- within the next 20 years."
  • "As another challenge to our City Council and City Bureaus, I have asked that EACH service-delivery bureau in the city seek and achieve Salmon-Safe certification within the next two years."
  • "I pledge that within 10 years, the bike will be the preferred mode of transportation for all trips under three miles in Portland."
  • "By pairing energy efficiency with renewable power, we will achieve our 50 percent carbon reduction goal for City operations." 
  • "I will direct Portland City bureaus to combine efforts and apply to the Rockefeller Foundation to compete for membership in the worldwide 100 Resilient Cities Network, which comes with it support for hiring a Chief Resiliency Office and resources to create and implement a resilience plan… [for] 'The Big One' – the mega-quake that scientists warn us have assailed this sector of the globe throughout eons. And will again."