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Portland Public Schools adopts new climate crisis response policy

The PPS board voted unanimously in favor of the policy in a meeting Tuesday night.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools (PPS) has implemented a new climate policy that aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

On Tuesday night, the PPS Board of Education voted to adopt the Climate Crisis Response Policy. The policy will impact what students learn, how district buildings are constructed and what kind of equipment is used to maintain schoolgrounds.

In addition to dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the district also plans to phase out of fuel-driven equipment like lawnmowers and leaf blowers in all buildings by 2050. 

New buildings will have electric heating, and they'll be constructed with more sustainable materials like a "green concrete," which takes less of a toll on the environment. 

Michael Rosen, a former PPS board member, worked on the policy for two years with the Climate Justice Committee and the Eco School Network

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"We are shaping future generations of children to be better citizens and they get it," Rosen said. "They protested this, had sit-ins, they wanted this."

The policy also calls for the district to establish more systems for recycling and reducing waste in addition to more curriculum on climate change.

"We are actually building the buildings themselves to be net zero ready, so they don't contribute any CO2 to the environment," Rosen said.

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Adah Crandall is a sophomore at Grant High School. She testified in favor of the new policy at the board meeting on Tuesday. 

"I am excited to see PPS take this step towards climate justice," Crandall said. "I am also skeptical on their ability to follow through on the promises and commitments they are making with this policy."

Other parts of the plan include offering free TriMet passes to high school students and offering staff members incentives to walk or bike to work. 

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