Earth Day 2022: Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveils Chicago climate action plan

Chicago area marking Earth Day with variety of activities

ByMaher Kawash WLS logo
Friday, April 22, 2022
Lightfoot calls for reducing emissions in Chicago 62% by 2040
Mayor Lightfoot outlined what she called her climate action plan for Chicago on Earth Day Friday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released the city's climate action plan Friday to mark Earth Day.

Lightfoot started with a tour of Plant Chicago on the Southwest Side, hearing from the organization that is addressing environmental needs on a local level.

In the meantime,Lightfoot said her 2022 action plan includes things like working with utility companies to reduce costs for customers.

She also saidthe plan is to limit waste around the city while reducing carbon emissions coming from buildings and transit.

RELATED: Chicago gets failing grade for ozone air pollution from American Lung Association

"Now more than ever before, cities across the world have a responsibility and moral obligation to take action and prioritize protecting residents and businesses from climate impacts. Chicago is no exception," said Mayor Lightfoot. "The 2022 Climate Action Plan demonstrates a commitment to pursue ambitious climate action in ways that deliver meaningful community-level benefits. We can alleviate historic environmental burdens and invest in community health, safety, and resilience by equitably investing in critical clean energy infrastructure and nature-based solutions, catalyzing a workforce prepared for all facets of the green economy, and encouraging innovative new types of economic growth and job creation."

Lightfoot's plan calls for reducing emissions in Chicago 62% by 2040.

The mayor said the plan will be supported by five pillars, which she outlined as:

1. Lowering costs for households and businesses through utility savings and expanded access to renewable energy including a commitment to retrofitting 20% of all building types in the City of Chicago, retrofitting 90% of the City's own building portfolio by 2035 and expanding Chicago based community renewable energy by 20MW

2. Reduce waste by committing to introducing an organics waste collection system by 2025 and diverting 90% of our residential waste by 2040 and create jobs through expanded materials reuse opportunities

3. Delivering a zero-emission transportation network and improving air quality by expanding the City's walk, bike, and transit options, increasing CTA ridership, and supporting municipal and commercial fleet electrification

4. Invest in our clean energy future, by upholding our commitments to 100% renewable energy for City operations by 2025 and city-wide by 2035, investing in 30MW of renewable energy on City property by 2030 and encouraging a transition from fossil fuel based peaker plants during peak energy demand to clean battery

storage technologies

5. Strengthen communities and protect health by enabling community resilience investments and enabling health and racial equity criteria in decision-making.

"I am from the South Side of Chicago and I echo the mayor's comments about the significant and stark lack of green space there," Tonyisha Harris Action for Climate Emergency said.

The mayor's action plan will be critical as Chicago has some air quality issues.

When it comes to ozone pollution or smog, Chicago is the 16th most polluted city in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.

"Chicago is also a major transportation hub. We have a lot of road traffic, truck traffic that goes through the city that adds to the ozone levels," said Kristina Hamilton, Illinois Advocacy Director for the ALA.

Englewood children celebrate Earth Day 2022 with hands-on activities

Cook and its surrounding counties also struggle with ozone pollution, but do get better grades from the ALA for particle pollution.

Earth Day activities:

Chicago Public Schools Earth Day events-

CPS will hold a series of events on Earth Day including nature walks, coat swaps, and gardening.

Events include:

--8 a.m, Kinzie Elementary 8th graders will host a water walk to bring awareness on global water crisis (5625 S Mobile Ave.)

--8-10 a.m., Bowen HS kids conduct an assessment of the local school grounds in prep for native plantings this spring (2710 E 89th St)

--9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Suder Montessori kids garden and create art (2022 W Washington Blvd.)

--10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tilden HS kids will garden in beds around the school and build an indoor vertical garden system (4747 S Union Ave.)

--2-3:30 p.m., Barton elementary kids work to revitalize their learning garden including planting vegetables (7650 S Wolcott Ave.)

--3-4:30 p.m., Burr Elementary has been accepting coats and will be curating a "shop" with the donated items (1621 W Wabansia Ave.)

Waukegan Earth Day events

The Waukegan Park District will be celebrating Earth Day with a cleanup. It'll take place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Washington Park, 15 S Park Ave in Waukegan. Gloves, supplies, lunch, and water will be provided by the Waukegan Park District.

Meanwhile, a community service project led by the youth conservation corps in Waukegan will be done today. As part of earth day, they will look to beautify Roosevelt Park on the city's south side. Activities include picking up litter, clearing debris from the waterway, and creating tree rings around smaller, recently planted trees. It'll begin at 9 a.m. at the park, 520 A McAlister Ave in Waukegan

Metra Earth Day

Metra employees will be out across Metra-owned lines cleaning along the tracks and working with community groups to plant wildflowers and trees at various locations on Metra property. Cleanup and gardening activities will be taking place along the Rock Island Line, the Metra Electric Line and the Milwaukee District North and West lines. The cleanup events Friday are from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and includes:

--tree planting on Beverly Branch Parkway from 115th St. to 111th S.t along Vincennes Ave.

--trash removal along entire Beverly Branch right of way along Rock Island Line from Gresham South

Morton Arboretum tree planting

The Morton Arboretum will be joined by several federal, state, and local elected officials to launch the arboretum's centennial tree planting initiative where they intend to plant thousands of trees in the Chicago region forest.

Northwest Indiana Earth Day event

In celebration of Earth Day, the group Athletes For Charity will host a series of zoom events with local Bears and Colts players for Lake County, Indiana elementary school students. Every participating student will receive a Dr. Seuss book entitled "How to Help the Earth By the Lorax" sponsored by the Legacy Foundation which is headquartered in Merrillville.