Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that Chicago will partner with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and all of its partner city networks to host a climate summit for North American cities in the late fall. The summit will bring together Mayors from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico to outline each city’s respective commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change via new programs and initiatives.
“Now, more than ever, cities are leading on bold and innovative initiatives that not only reduce our carbon footprint but also help develop a 21st century economy,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By partnering with the Global Covenant of Mayors and other city networks, we are ready to show the world that we will not wait on others to forge our destiny to more sustainable and more productive cities.”
Chaired by UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg, Vice President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, the Global Covenant of Mayors is an international alliance of more than 7,400 cities and local governments, all of whom have committed to meet or exceed the planned contributions of their respective national governments to the meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The Global Covenant of Mayors is excited partner with Mayor Emmanuel and the City of Chicago on this important summit that will showcase the remarkable city leadership on climate change that has emerged in North America,” said Christiana Figueres of the Global Covenant. “Cities around the world should take note that action to support national governments meet and exceed their Paris commitments is in their economic and environmental self-interest"
Mayors gathering in Chicago will commit themselves and their cities to moving forward with emissions reductions regardless of action taken by their respective federal governments. In addition, Mayors will announce city-specific climate programs and policies over the next several years and commit to working through existing organizations, such as Climate Mayors, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and ICLEI to develop partnerships with other cities. Along with the Global Covenant of Mayors, the Joyce Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have agreed to serve as initial supporters of the Summit.
“For decades, the Joyce Foundation has been committed to protecting the environment in the Great Lakes region,” said Ellen S. Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation. “We are proud that Chicago will be hosting Mayors from across North America and leading important conversations about local solutions to the threat of climate change.”
“Leadership is the essential ingredient in combatting the effects of climate change,” said Julia Stasch, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “As our national government turns its back on this critical global challenge, this summit is strong evidence that leadership increasingly is coming from local governments, along with states and the business community.”
Since the Trump administration’s announcement to pull out of the Paris Agreements, cities across the United States and around of the world have shown their commitment to creating a truly sustainable future for their residents. Over the past several weeks, Mayor Emanuel has joined more than 270 Climate Mayors from cities across the United States in the commitment to adopt, honor and uphold the Paris Agreement. Hundreds of US cities, universities, and businesses have declared “We Are Still In” regarding pursuing ambitious climate goals, and ensuring that the US remains a global leader in reducing emissions. This group is now working on the creation of “America’s Pledge,” an unprecedented effort to aggregate carbon reductions by cities, regions and businesses to ensure that the US achieves its Paris Agreement pledge.
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.
There are several city-based climate initiatives and organizations performing great work in North America and across the globe, which this convening will not aim to supplant or replicate. Rather, the convening creates an opportunity for those organizations and their members to come together for a single event, nearly two years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, to send a powerful message of the important of climate issues and a critical time, with the legacy work of the convening occurring through existing institutions.
Climate change is not just an issue for megacities or cities on sea coasts. From extreme weather events to warmer temperatures to threats to water quality the impacts of climate change can be seen throughout America’s heartland, in cities of all size. The goal of the convening is to have a representative group of participating cities taking leadership on climate, regardless of population, political affiliation, or geography. Chicago’s leadership on the environment and convenient location and connectivity make it the most suitable choice.
Additional details, including date and other events associated with the Summit, will be announced in the coming weeks.