Chicago is Taking the Charge on Climate

913 solar panels atop Shedd Aquarium, part of its plan to cut its energy usage in half by 2020. (Photo: Patrick Pyszka)

Climate change is real. On Monday, Mayor Emanuel met mayors and urban leaders from around the world at the C40 Cities Talks in New York, where he announced Chicago would host the first North American Climate Summit and the C40 Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards on December 4–5.

With national governments moving slowly, cities have taken the lead on cutting our carbon footprint and developing a sustainable economy for the 21st century. And with President Trump refusing to be a climate leader here in the United States, Chicago is happy to take on the charge.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel & Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle on the Chicago Riverwalk. (Photo: Walter Mitchell)

Chicago has already cut carbon emissions by 11 percent between 2005 and 2015 while at the same time expanding our economy by 7 percent.

When President Trump removed environmental data from the EPA website, Chicago put it up on ours — with other cities following suit.

Then a few weeks later when President Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreements, cities across the country — starting with Chicago — renewed their promise to uphold their pledge.

It wasn’t a hard move for us to make — we’re already 40 percent on our way to meeting our commitment to the Paris Accord.

Chicago has retrofitted over 50 million square feet of its buildings to reduce energy use by 20 percent, earning us the EPA’s 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award. And by 2025, all of our more-than 900 public buildings will be powered exclusively by renewable energy.

All Chicago streetlights will be converted to LED by 2021, we shut down our last two coal plants in 2012, and we’ve encouraged alternatives to driving by investing $8.5 billion in mass transit modernization and creating the largest bike-sharing program in North America.

The list goes on.

Here in Chicago the choice is simple. The world is depending on all of us — from cities to businesses to countries — to step up and do our part to fight climate change and protect our environment. With global temperatures and extreme weather reaching record levels every year, the time is now for bold, smart action to preserve our world today and for generations to come.

Save the Date! On December 4–5, Chicago will host the Global Covenant of Mayors first North American Climate Summit and the 2017 C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards, bringing together leaders from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico to articulate commitments to the Paris Agreement and recognize innovative efforts to tackle climate change. Participants include Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Montreal Denis Coderre, Mayor of Austin Steve Adler, Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed and other climate advocates from around the world. Get more details on cityofchicago.org.