Salem Climate Action Plan

In their most consequential vote in recent memory, a 7-2 majority of the Salem City Council voted to set a goal for Salem to become carbon neutral by 2050, with a second goal to get halfway there by 2035.

This was the culmination of nearly four years of effort by 350 Salem OR that began with a presentation at a meeting in December 2016, by Laurie Dougherty: Why Does Salem Need a Climate Action Plan? It was an uphill fight back then with a conservative City Council, but we persisted. The City Council has changed dramatically since then.

Our 350 Salem OR representative Janet Lorenzen will work with City Councilor Tom Andersen, Councilor Vanessa Nordyke and others who serve on the Climate Action Plan Task Force to create a solid Climate Action Plan for Salem.

You can help by taking the city survey on the new Climate Action Plan before November 4.


City planners have engaged the Verdis Group, a Nebraska-based consulting firm, to assist Salem with its Climate Action Plan. The task force will lead the effort, which concludes December 2021.

Now that the Salem City Council has formally adopted Climate Action goals, 350 Salem OR believes it should be the job of the Climate Action Plan Task Force to develop reasonable and achievable strategies to meet the goals, focusing on the near-term 2035 goal to cut our carbon emissions in half compared to 2016 levels.

The Salem Oregon Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory reported that in 2016, greenhouse gas emissions in Salem totaled over 1.5 million metric tons. More than half (53%) came from transportation (cars and trucks) and a quarter came from electricity generation.

350 Salem OR will be asking the task force to look at aggressive strategies of vehicle electrification, encouraging more biking, walking and transit use, and more use of clean energy to power residences and businesses.

Governor Kate Brown’s recent Executive Order 20-04 committed Oregon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In June the City of Portland set a goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions before 2050. The cities of Eugene, Corvallis, Bend, Ashland and Milwaukie have also set similar goals.

According to the United Nations, 60 countries around the world, including Germany, France and Britain, have committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. China just announced their commitment to reaching this goal by 2060.

Fifty years from now people will likely look back on this era through the lens of having seen catastrophic climate changes that we cannot even imagine. Our legacy will likely depend on the level of moral courage we display in this difficult challenge.  

— Phil Carver, 350 Salem OR Co-coordinator