Image source: Chicago Climate Action Plan
Mayor Richard M. Daly laid out a plan to cut Chicago's emissions to 3/4 of 1990 levels by 2020, announced yesterday in an ambitious and comprehensive Chicago Climate Change Action Plan, reports Chicago's NBC5. Not only is this plan designed to slash greenhouse gases, but it will also improve air and water quality and environmental health, ultimately improving quality of life. The plan includes 29 actions that the city must take, which the Natural Resources Defense Council says are challenging but do-able. Businesses, Residents and Visitors can all be part of the action by checking out the plan online: Chicago Climate Action Plan
Part of the plan also includes nine adaptation measures to deal with changes that are going to come and can't be avoided. Things like "a heat warning system, reducing summer energy use, improving air quality, preparing for increases in rainfall and flooding, reducing erosion along Lake Michigan's shoreline and planting vegetation that can adapt to climate change." Funding has been set aside for some of the changes, but additional funding will be needed to complete all projects.What is included in the plan?
The plan includes 29 actions that are broken down into different sectors. Commercial buildings will be encouraged to reduce energy consumption and building codes will be updated to promote construction and redevelopment around the city using better technology. Citizens will be given incentives for improving home energy use. Solar on commercial rooftops, alternative vehicle fueling stations around the city and incentives to improve public transportation use are also under consideration or planned for development.
Chicago has also distributed over 1 million CFLs over the last few years and planted over half a million trees. Not to mention Chicago has been a big fan of the green roofs, installing them all over downtown, and even passed a comprehensive stormwater management ordinance recently.
Chicago and Climate Change
Chicago currently emits 34.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and when you include the surrounding county, that number skyrockets to 103 million metric tons. Since 1980, temperatures in Chicago have already risen 2.6 degrees F on average (4 degrees F in the winter) and scientists in the Netherlands predict that summers in Chicago could top 115 degrees F by the end of the century if emission levels continue unabated.
Its great that Chicago is taking such a strong stance on climate change. Committing to and actively working to drop emissions way below 1990 levels and in a fairly short time-frame. The best that we can hope is that Chicago will be using the best available technology today and achieving its goals, with the hope that a few years from now, with new technology they can even beat their stated goal with even greater reductions. Aim high, Chicago!