May 6, 2022 - News

Chicago launches Climate Action Plan

Climate action plan
Chicago's new Climate Action Plan. Photo courtesy of the City of Chicago

Amid louder news of casinos and crime, Chicago's 2022 Climate Action Plan quietly debuted this week.

Why it matters: Cities use 78% of the world's energy and emit two-thirds of its carbon emissions. So municipal climate plans will be crucial in addressing global warming.

Context: Mayor Richard M. Daley launched the first Climate Action Plan in 2008, followed by updates from Rahm Emanuel during his term. It's now Lori Lightfoot's turn.

Details: There are 51 total action goals, but the overarching target is to reduce the city's carbon emissions by 62% from 2017 levels by 2040.

By the numbers: Deadlines for the goals range from one to 18 years and include:

  • Recycling or composting 90% of residential waste by 2040 — we are currently at about 9%.
  • Retrofitting 20% of all residential and industrial buildings for energy efficiency by 2030.
  • Getting Chicagoans to use a car for only 55% of their trips around town by 2040.
  • Electrifying all city and delivery vehicles by 2035.
  • Heating and powering 30% of residential and 90% of city buildings with renewable electricity by 2035.

What they're saying: Most local environmental leaders praised the goals, but shared more suggestions with Axios.

  • Iyana Simba of the Illinois Environmental Council urged the city to relaunch the Department of the Environment, calling it a "key to successfully implementing the [plan] and ensuring an environmentally safe and healthy Chicago for every neighborhood."
  • Anthony Moser of Neighbors for Environmental Justice wants to see immediate actions to improve air quality, plus more data on emissions generated by city contracted projects like asphalt producers and new warehouse facilities.
  • "The crisis demands a broader lens that incorporates a wider set of concerns and potential impacts voiced by frontline communities," wrote Valeria Rincon of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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