Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yeah For Chicago!

Last week Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley unveiled the most aggessive plan of any major American city to reduce heat-trapping gases. This is great news, not just for those of us in Chicago, but for the entire nation as Chicago sets the bar high for other cities to follow.

The plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to three-fourths of 1990 levels by 2020 through more energy-efficient buildings, using clean and renewable energy sources, improving transportation and reducing industrial pollution. According to Mayor Daley "We can't solve the world's climate change problem in Chicago, but we can do our part. We have a shared responsibility to protect our planet."

According to Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Chicago's environmental commissioner, Chicago is the first major city to identify specific pollution sources and outline how it would achieve the reductions in a measurable way. Chicago will use a combination of incentives and mandates to achieve its goals, beginning with updating the city's building codes to require better insulation, heating and cooling systems and windows in all buildings. Additionally, the city also has an agreement with two coal-fired power plants to reduce emissions or shut down by 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Chicago's city hall already has a green rooftop and the new plans call for increasing the number of buildings with green rooftops, increasing recycling and carpooling and promoting alternative fuels.
The plan also calls for expanding the number of green rooftops, increasing recycling and car-pooling and promoting alternative fuels.

Officials say Chicago emits 34.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year; including the six surrounding counties, that climbs to 103 million metric tons per year. That's a lot of greenhouse gases! If climate change is not addressed, summer heat indexes in Chicago could climb as high as 105 degrees by the end of the century and there would be more frequent heavy rains and floods, according to researchers from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and the University of Illinois who were commissioned by the city to study climate change. It is already too hot for me in the summer, so I may have to move somewhere cooler - where I don't know. Just since 1980, Chicago's average temperature has risen approximately 2.6 degrees, 4 degrees in the winter.

You can check out all the details of the plan and find out what you can do at http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/. I am so proud of the steps Chicago is making to do the right thing. Today, more than ever before, I am proud to be a Chicagoan.

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