Chicago mayor's climate plan short on goals

·2 min read

Last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged to invest $188 million in the environment as part of her 2022 budget proposal.

  • She called it "the largest one-time investment in climate mitigation, adaptation, and environmental justice priorities in the city's history."

Yes, but: When Axios asked her for specific climate action goals with deadlines, neither she nor her staff could produce them.

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

  • Instead, her staff showed us a document indicating that Chicago only started to convene stakeholders around developing the plan this summer.

Why it matters: Cities create about 75% of the world's C02 emissions, according to the UN.

  • While published targets don't guarantee success, they do increase accountability and can get multiple city agencies moving in the same direction.

Context: Former Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel both launched ambitious Chicago climate action plans while they were in office, with very specific goals and deadlines.

  • During the budget address, Lightfoot said some of the $188 million would go toward planting 75,000 new trees in Chicago by 2026.

Also: When Lightfoot campaigned for the job, she dinged her predecessor Emanuel for disbanding the Department of the Environment and said she'd restore it to create a central accountable body for climate action.

  • Halfway through her term, we have a chief sustainability officer (as we did under Emanuel) but still no Department of the Environment.

  • When we asked for a date for the relaunched department, she didn't have one.

What she's saying: "The process matters, the context matters. And I know you want me to tell you a date, but I'm telling you, we've engaged in a very thoughtful process to really do a survey of where we are as a city, internally, but also our level of engagement with partners in the community that are critically part of our path forward."

Of note: While Lightfoot hasn't released a goal-centered climate action plan, she did tout the city's partnership with regional and international climate plans that include the following measurable goals.

  • 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.

  • Reducing Chicago's carbon emissions by about 25% from 2005 levels by 2025 as part of Paris accord commitments signed by Emanuel in 2017.

  • Powering all Chicago buildings with renewable energy by 2035 as part of an Emanuel commitment.

Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting