Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the creation of a City of Chicago “Climate Change is Real” website, putting information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Change Website on the City of Chicago’s servers after the Trump administration unceremoniously removed it from the federal government’s websites on April 29. The new site, www.cityofchicago.org/climatechangeisreal, ensures the public has ready access to information the EPA has developed over decades of research to inform the public about the impact of climate change. Mayor Emanuel is calling on other U.S. Mayors to follow suit.
“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We are going to ensure Chicago’s residents remain well informed about the effects of climate change, and I encourage cities, academic institutions, and others to voice concerns to follow suit to ensure this important information does not disappear.”
The new website includes information on the basic science behind climate change, the different ways in which weather is impacted from increased greenhouse had emissions, and actions the federal government has taken to reduce the impact.
“Cities are becoming central in the climate fight. In the absence of federal leadership, this is a key moment for local action,” Henry Henderson, Midwest Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said. “Chicago has long been a clean energy leader and is now stepping up to help defend the nation against the seeming war on climate science underway in DC.”
The Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) has released a new tool so that the City and the public as a whole can easily save, archive and preserve open data from public data portals, such as the EPA site.
“We will not allow this data to simply be taken away from us,” Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk, Jr. said. “We will create and share the tools so we can continue to understand the risks climate change has for us and to combat it together.”
Today’s announcement 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, equivalent to shutting down a coal power plant for eight months, compares to a one percent increase in nationwide emissions from 2009 to 2014.
On April 9, the Mayor announced that by 2025 all of Chicago’s public buildings will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. That transition means that 8 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.
On April 26, 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 4 percent in buildings covered by the ordinance.
In March, the Mayor announced that the Smart Lighting Project will start on the South and West Sides this summer. Once approved by City Council, the Chicago Smart Lighting Project will replace 270,000 of Chicago’s light fixtures and add a management system that will give the city a state-of-the-art smart lighting grid.
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 Chicago’s carbon emissions from waste were down 30 percent, with the expansion of the City’s recycling program playing a significant factor. During those give years the City increased the numbers of tons of recycled material from 58,000 to 97,000. And just last week the Mayor announced that since implementation of the City’s check-out bag tax in February, residents have reduced their plastic bag use by 40 percent.
The Mayor’s leadership on issues of climate change and sustainability is clear and Chicago will continue to take action.