Mayor Rahm Emanuel today filed an Executive Order formalizing Chicago’s commitment to adopt the guidelines of the Paris Agreement after President Trump withdrew the United States, reneging on a consensus with 196 countries on environment protections.
"Chicago has proven you can create jobs while reducing your carbon footprint, and we will continue to do both,” Mayor Emanuel said. “As the Trump administration pulls back we will push forward and reduce our fair share of carbon emissions in line with the Paris Accord. The world is depending on cities in the US to take up the mantle of leadership on climate change. Chicago is accepting that challenge."
The Executive Order doubles down on the Paris Agreement’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Mayor Emanuel’s Executive Order commits the City of Chicago to the goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions to levels equivalent to or greater 26-28 percent reduction from 2005 levels to 2025, which is the original commitment made by the Obama Administration as part of the United States’ commitment to the Paris Accord.
It also requires City departments to work jointly on and accelerate the development of policies and strategies that will assist Chicago in meeting the goal and order departments to develop and implement standards, policies and practices. The Mayor's Office will seek input from Sister Agencies, environmental advocates, environmental justice groups, community organizations, scientific experts, other cities, state actors, and the business community on efforts to collectively reduce Chicago’s greenhouse gas emissions and protect Chicagoans from the resulting effects of a changing climate.
"More than 100 faith communities across Chicago join Mayor Emanuel in this commitment to adopt the guidelines of the Paris Agreement," said Rev. Brian J. Sauder, President of Faith in Place, a local faith-based environmental justice organization. "The exit of the United States from the Paris Agreement is an evasion of our moral obligation to address climate change; however, Chicago will not be daunted or distracted. Under the Mayor's leadership, together, we will march forward in reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy for a healthy and just future.
Today’s action builds on Mayor Emanuel’s strong environmental track record since 2011. In January, Mayor Emanuel announced that Chicago has reduced its carbon emissions by seven percent from 2010 to 2015 all while the region’s economy grew 12 percent. The emissions reduction is equivalent to shutting down a coal power plant for eight months.
In April, the Mayor announced that by 2025 all of Chicago’s public buildings will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. That transition means that eight percent of the city-wide electricity load or 1.8 billion kilowatt hours will come from clean and renewable sources. This follows the 2013 commitment that the City made to eliminating coal from its electricity supply.
Earlier this year, the City of Chicago was awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award. The award is given annually to honor organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency and recognized the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge and its 76 member buildings covering 51.3 million square feet-all of which have committed to reducing their energy use by 20 percent. The award also recognized the four years of successful implementation of the City’s Energy Benchmarking Ordinance which has reduced energy use by four percent in buildings covered by the ordinance.
Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago’s reduction in waste has a played a significant role in improving the City’s environment. From 2010 to 2015, the City increased the numbers of tons of recycled material from 58,000 to 97,000. The Mayor recently announced that since implementation of the City’s check-out bag tax in February, residents have reduced their plastic bag use by 40 percent.
Mayor Emanuel joined over 200 Mayors from around the country to commit to the Paris Agreement as part of the Mayors National Climate Agenda, or Climate Mayors. This network of U.S. mayors — representing over 56 million Americans in red states and blue states — work together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting efforts for binding federal and global-level policy making. Mayor Emanuel also joined over 1,000 state, local, and business leaders from across the country as part of the “We’re Still In” campaign, coming together to signal the importance of the Paris Accord both nationally and across the world.
The City will commission a measurement of community greenhouse gas emissions every other year, beginning in 2018 with the measurement of 2017 emissions levels.