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Demonstrators demand climate action in Portland on anniversary of deadly heat dome

The nonprofit Extinction Rebellion PDX said the city's climate actions have not lived up to its promises.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Activists are calling on the city of Portland to take stronger action against climate change.

A small group with the nonprofit Extinction Rebellion PDX gathered in front of Portland City Hall Monday on the anniversary of 2021's historic heat dome, a week of extreme temperatures that killed at least 96 Oregonians last June.

"Climate change is real, it's here, it's killing people," said Lynn Handlin with the nonprofit.

Extinction Rebellion PDX said although the city has committed $4 million in its new budget toward climate action, much more needs to be done.

On Sunday, Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke in support of climate initiatives at a memorial for the Oregonians lost in 2021 to heat.

"For the continuity of the human race, there's nothing less at stake," Wheeler said. "The best time to have planned for these emergencies was 20 years ago, and we didn't." 

RELATED: Community memorializes Oregonians lost to deadly 2021 heat dome

Wheeler told a small crowd the city will make buildings greener and plant trees in neighborhoods that are deemed heat islands.

"He has the right words," said Diane Meisenhelter with Extinction Rebellion PDX. "[But] we need deeds. We need action."

Meisenhelter said the city needs to invest a significantly higher percentage of its budget to climate plans, and noted its actions do not always match its promises.

"If we don't do prevention, it's not going to work, and harm will happen, deaths will continue," she said.

One example the group gave was the city's recent push to expand Interstate 5 by the Rose Quarter.

"You widen freeways, you have more cars, climate change is worse, the air quality in the area is worse," Handlin said.

The nonprofit is calling for an end to construction of buildings that use natural gas and for the city to reduce emissions by 10% annually.

The bigger goal is to prevent the increasing rate of severe weather events like the heat dome that killed so many people in a matter of days.

"It's a disgrace to their memory if we don't address the cause of these rising temperatures," said Victoria Wingell, another member of Extinction Rebellion PDX.

"The only way we're going to solve this is to work together across generations, across groups," Handlin said.

RELATED: Record temperatures persists during sweltering heat wave

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