The Earth’s climate and oceans are changing because of human activities that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Oregon is already experiencing changes that are consistent with changes observed and projected globally, such as increased average air and water temperatures, disrupted precipitation patterns, and increased ocean acidification and hypoxia.
These changing climate and ocean conditions are undermining the ability of lands and waters to support Oregon’s native fish and wildlife, and the cultural and economic benefits they provide. This represents a serious and immediate threat to the Department’s ability to achieve its mission and meet its statutory mandates to manage the public trust resources in its care.
To ensure the Department responds appropriately, ODFW adopted a Climate and Ocean Change Policy (OAR 635-900-0001) in 2020 that provides high level direction to the Department to:
(1) Ensure the Department understands the risks and opportunities associated with changing climate and ocean conditions and incorporates that understanding into all of the Department’s actions to maximize the conservation, use, and enjoyment of fish, wildlife, and their habitats for present and future generations.
(2) Provide leadership toward a coordinated statewide and regional response that minimizes the impacts of changing climate and ocean conditions on Oregon’s natural resources and the communities, culture and economies reliant on them, and allows for sustainable use of natural resources in the future.
(3) Provide leadership towards achieving the reductions in global greenhouse gases emissions that will be needed to prevent worsening of the impacts by reducing the Department’s carbon footprint to the extent practicable, with the goal reaching carbon neutrality.
See the Oregon Administrative Rule or plain English version below for more information on the goals, principles, and implementation strategies identified in the policy.
The Climate and Ocean Change Policy (2020) directed the agency to assess its carbon footprint every five years and develop a carbon reduction plan that outlined how the department would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of being carbon neutral by mid-century.
ODFW's Base Year Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report (GHG Report) was finalized in 2021, which assessed the carbon footprint of ODFW operations from July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020. ODFW's total greenhouse gas emissions were calculated as 9,280 tonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e) per year from electricity consumption, fuel combustion, and fugitive and nitrous oxide emissions. The GHG Report also assessed carbon sequestration in the ~200,000 acres of lands managed by ODFW and estimated ODFW's Wildlife Areas sequester almost 61,000 tonnes of CO2e per year, which is over 6.5 times larger than the agency's base year GHG emissions total.
While these findings determined that the emissions from the agency's operations were already being offset by carbon sequestration on our managed lands, the agency recognizes the need to continue to identify resources and implement actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration as practicable. The ODFW Carbon Reduction Plan (2022) outlines goals, actions, and targets for the agency to implement that specifically address the greenhouse gas emission sources identified in the GHG Report, and will assist the agency in achieving the overarching goal of reducing ODFW's carbon footprint. Paralleling the carbon reduction goals with the GHG Report metrics will assist the agency in tracking the outcomes of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and re-evaluating our targets and efforts as needed.