June 11, 2018

Moving Beyond "Jobs vs. the Environment"

Over the last several years, APANO members have repeatedly lifted up climate justice as a key priority. Through our listening circles and partnerships, we have heard from our immigrant, migrant and refugee members the impact of climate change on our Pacific Island and Asian homelands, environment, and economy. At the same time, our members have also emphasized the urgency of increasing access to living wage jobs and benefiting from the new green economy. In Oregon, Asians and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing community of color, driven in part by climate change, with 40% of Pacific Islanders experiencing poverty fueled by unemployment and low-wage, dead-end jobs.

Often these two needs--for jobs and taking climate action--are seen as separate fights or even framed in opposition with one another. APANO has been steadily building with long-time partners, including Verde, NAYA, the Coalition of Communities of Color, 350PDX, and Sierra Club, on a new initiative that combined a way to move our city to transition towards more clean and renewable energy, while also creating a steady financing mechanism for clean energy jobs and jobs training to support our communities.

Over the last two years, our coalition considered a range of options, and after a community-driven process, developed the Portland Clean Energy Fund initiative, which we are currently working hard to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

The Portland Clean Energy Fund will be one part of a climate justice solution that will benefit members of our community who are most impacted by climate change. Dedicated funding will ensure long-term stability and prevent politicians from deprioritizing the needs of our community.

The Portland Clean Energy Fund will prioritize investments in communities of color that will:

  • Weatherize thousands of low-income apartments and homes
  • Install solar panels on low-income apartment buildings, such as the new JAMS building under construction on 82nd and Division
  • Provide green jobs training for economically disadvantaged and traditionally underemployed workers, including many AAPI immigrants and communities of color.

Our members have emphasized that they would like living wage jobs that will support a family, where they get treated with dignity and respect, and that they would like to be doing positive work for the community, and gaining new skills in energy efficiency project, home weatherization, green infrastructure, and solar energy installation.

This ballot measure would impose a small 1% business license surcharge on retail companies that make over one billion dollars a year nationally and at least $500,000 within Portland city limits. These big box retailers have long supply chains whose greenhouse gas emissions are not and will not be included in most carbon pricing schemes.

In order to qualify for the November 2018 ballot, our coalition needs to gather 40,000 signatures of registered voters in the city of Portland by July 6. Here are 3 ways you can help:

  1. Sign up to gather signatures at a public event. We will contact you to give you a signature gathering kit, and invite you to join us at upcoming public events to gather signatures.
  2. Join our “10 Friends Team” of people who commit to gathering 10 signatures from friends, family, and coworkers.
  3. Donate to the PCEF crowdfunding campaign. Your contribution will help us gather the signatures we need to qualify for the November ballot.

With your help, we can win this groundbreaking initiative to provide living wage jobs building the renewable economy that our communities need. Please contact Khanh Pham at khanh@apano.org for more information.