Inventory Case 1: City of Portland/Multnomah County Climate Action Plan 2009 (inventory discussion)

Responsible Party
City of Portland and Multnomah County
Case Study Year
City Involved
County Involved
State Involved
Country Involved
United States
Case Study Type
Inventory Case


  1. Who did it: City of Portland and Multnomah County (includes Portland and suburban/rural areas to the east, including Cities of Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village, Maywood Park)
  2. What they did (and when): Adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2009. Specific to inventories, the Plan is noteworthy for acknowledging the role of consumption of goods (and related emissions that are traditionally excluded from community GHG inventories). It presents the EPA "sector" and "system" based views of emissions. See pages 21 and 22 of Although Portland did not (in its 2009 plan) calculate or estimate its own emissions resulting from consumption of goods, the inventory component of the Plan makes a compelling case for acknowledging and addressing these emissions. A 2015 climate action plan does however include consumption-based emissions 
  3. Why they did it: The Plan states that "Taken together, the traditional and complementary approaches to inventorying emissions offer insight into the underlying causes of — and therefore the opportunities to reduce — carbon emissions. Both approaches are needed because the businesses and industries located in Multnomah County produce different kinds and quantities of goods than what local residents consume. Examining carbon emissions through both methods therefore provides a more complete picture of the total emissions for which Portland and Multnomah County bear some responsibility . . . Viewing the data from the two different perspectives yields important insights into what causes carbon emissions. As consumers, for example, our decisions to acquire goods, including certain foods, result in nearly half of all carbon emissions. As producers, our decisions about the entire supply chain — extraction, production, packaging, distribution, retail and disposal — affect carbon emissions. Since both consumers and producers of goods generate carbon emissions, both parties have an opportunity to reduce those emissions." The Plan goes on to cite the example of the UK: "A report released by the United Kingdom in 2008 illustrates the importance of utilizing both perspectives. The report observes that although the UK’s carbon emissions under the traditional method declined five percent between 1992 and 2004, the emissions under the complementary method for this same period increased 18 percent during this same period, reflecting the importance of the embedded emissions intensity of UK imports."
  4. Results/outcomes/successes/failures/lessons learned
  5. The discussion of materials in the Inventory translated into some new elements of the Climate Action Plan  and when Portland updated its Climate Action Plan in 2015, it included a full consumption-based inventory.

Note from David Allaway, Oregon DEQ: The City/County plan is only partially correct in its statement (p. 22) that "Because this approach does not explicitly capture emissions associated with the consumption of goods, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is developing a complementary method, the 'systems method,' to consolidate carbon emissions from the full life cycle of a product, including manufacturing, distribution and disposal. Whereas the sector method allocates emissions based on the production of goods — the supply side of the economy — the systems method seeks to attribute emissions to the consumption of goods — the demand side of the economy.Oregon DEQ has not developed a “systems method” inventory for Oregon. The "systems view" as described by EPA shows exactly the same emissions as the "sector view" - those that physically originate within "the bubble" of the geographic area under consideration (in EPA's case, the United States). The "systems view" (as the term is used by EPA) does not include all emissions associated with the demand side of the economy, because it excludes emissions outside our borders associated with producing goods we consume. Although related to EPA's "systems method", DEQ's work is more accurately characterized as a consumption-based emissions inventory. It estimates all emissions (regardless of location) resulting from consumption ("final demand") in Oregon. Even this approach does not address all materials, since certain materials are used by businesses to satisfy out-of-community consumption. . Click here for more information on the differences between "systems" and "consumption-based" inventories.