Apr 25, 2022 - News

Tracking Chicago's climate plans

Chicago skyline
Chicago skyline from the Shedd Aquarium lawn. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was scheduled to release Chicago's long-awaited Climate Action Plan last week on Earth Day.

  • But undisclosed delays halted the release, leaving Lightfoot to unveil just four pillars instead. Her office said to expect the actual plan in "coming weeks."

Why it matters: Cities create about 75% of the world's CO2 emissions, according to the UN — and that makes municipal climate action plans with accountable goals a big deal.

Yes, but: On Friday, Chicago Public Schools did release a Climate Action Plan for its district of 330,000 students, 630 schools and 64 million square feet of facilities. It includes installing solar panels on its buildings for energy savings and education. Its goals:

  • Reducing electricity consumption by 30% from the 2019 baseline by 2025.
  • Decreasing natural gas consumption by 20% by 2025.
  • Moving to 100% renewable electricity sources by 2025.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030.
  • Reaching an 80% waste diversion rate by 2030.

Zoom in: Some waste diversion will be driven by expanded recycling and cafeteria composting programs launched with the nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead (SGA).

What they're saying: "[The plan's] success will be contingent upon buy-in from the entire CPS community, and the degree to which the CPS Board makes this a top priority," SGA chief Gary Cuneen tells Axios.

What's next: Axios looks forward to Lightfoot's plan. In the meantime, we hope to see updates on outside climate commitments that Chicago signed on to, including:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Cook and the collar counties by 80% from 2005 levels by 2050, as part of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus regional plan.
  • Decreasing Chicago's carbon emissions by about 25% from 2005 levels by 2025 as part of Paris agreement commitments signed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2017.
  • Powering all Chicago buildings with renewable energy by 2035 as part of an Emanuel commitment.
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