Chicago’s Climate Action Plan

By Cinthya Campos for SUST 210*

Dramatic climate alterations have been observed lately in the city of Chicago. If action is not forthcoming quickly, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could increase as much as 35% by 2050 in Chicago as well as in other cities. This would result in extreme heat conditions in the summer as well as heavy rain storms, which in turn increase flooding and create threats to the public health and the city’s economy. (The Task Force agreed that Chicago needs to achieve an 80 percent reduction below its 1990 GHG emissions level by the year 2050 in order to do its part to avoid the worst global impacts of climate change.)

Campos - skyline

This is beyond a global problem, as it affects cities and their residents’ efforts to make a change. The Chicago Climate Action Plan addresses precisely that need for change by focusing on Energy Efficient Buildings, Clean & Renewable Energy Sources, Improved Transportation Options, Reduced Waste & Industrial Pollution, and Adaptation.

Campos - windows and lake

Energy Efficient Buildings

Campos - City Hall roofPrimary targets for emission reduction are buildings since they produce up about 70% percent of the GHG emissions. The plan for energy-efficient buildings is to start off slowly since the processes can seem out of the box.  Retrofitting commercial and industrial Buildings is the first step, followed by residential buildings, for greater energy efficiency.

Clean & Renewable Energy Sources

Campos - wind turbinesThe next step for climate reduction would involve moving away from existing energy sources and to cleaner and more efficient sources. Chicago purchases its power from the larger regional grid of Midwest power plants, some of which produce high amount of CO2 emissions. Chicago’s share alone would be the reduction of 2.5 million metric tons of C02 if the 21 plants in Illinois were repowering and upgraded.

Improved Transportation Options

Transportation is an essential part of the city, for everyday million of residents travel to different part of the metropolitan region as part of their transportation routine. This results in transportation creating 21% of GHG emissions (released by cars, trucks, buses and trains). The Chicago climate change program plans on modifying these transportation uses in order to lower emissions. This will involve public transit, bicycling, walking, car sharing, using energy-efficient vehicles, and developing transit-oriented neighborhoods.]By making such changes in transportation we can have less greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste

Waste representations another important area in which to reduce emissions, since the city of Chicago alone delivers 3.4 million tons of waste to landfills per year. If we reduce, reuse, and recycle more effectively, Chicago can go down to 0.84 MMTCO2e in emissions to the year 2020.

It is necessary to adapt to the coming changes in our climate in order to prevent greenhouse emissions from continue to rise. Throughout the years we have taken advantage of the different amenities provided to us. In order for us to slow down the climate shifts experienced in the city of Chicago as well as in other areas, it is important to focus of reducing greenhouse emissions. The above strategies proposed will help reduce these greenhouse gas emissions.

Submitted 8 Mar 2013

* Each week during the Spring 2013 semester, two to three students in the SUST 210 Sustainable Future online/Schaumburg class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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