Chicago residents call for better recycling and more public transit as city develops 2022 climate action plan

Chicago’s plans to tackle climate change in 2022 go beyond cutting carbon emissions and planting trees.

There is a holistic approach to making this change equitable across the city and considering how socio-economic status can make the effects of climate change more devastating. Officials say they also want to make sure the residents who are bearing the greatest impact are heard as the plans take shape.

“While climate change affects all Chicagoans, we know that historical and systemic oppression has resulted in disparities for our black and brown and low-income communities, which means these communities are especially vulnerable to climate change” said Angela Tovar, the mayor’s sustainability officer. officer.

Members of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s sustainability team held two virtual town halls this week for residents to discuss the city’s 2022 climate action plan.

The second of the two town halls took place on Saturday morning. More than 100 people registered to participate.

One resident called for better recycling across the city, with distribution to all offices and residential buildings. Since last year, Chicago the recycling rate remains in single digits, with approximately 9% of waste diverted from the bin. Another participant said that better CTA service would make it easier for residents to reduce their dependence on cars. A December Chicago Tribune analysis of CTA data found that trains and buses ran less frequently than before the pandemic.

Tovar said the city must act “tactically” to protect Chicagoans from existing and future threats from climate change — like severe weather — while doing so in a way that considers all communities.

According to a december study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

People living near interstate highways and freight hubs are at higher risk of pollution damaging lungs and shortening life, often hitting lower-income neighborhoods the hardest, according to a January study. A greater risk of flooding in Illinois has has disproportionately burdened certain neighborhoods on several occasionsnoted an expert in April.

The resulting city strategy is a multi-pronged approach, which aims to improve community health, address environmental inequities and help residents save money. Goals include increasing household savings through energy efficiency programs, expanding community access to clean energy, and access to bike and walking paths.

“We have the opportunity to support healthy ecosystems in the city and deliver equitable co-benefits including climate and environmental justice, improved air quality, household savings, creation wealth and green jobs that our communities need now more than ever,” Tovar said. .

Kyra Woods, city councilor for climate policy, said residents should continue to learn about the plan and get involved by visiting chicago.gov/climateactionplan. There, they can fill out surveys on issues the city should prioritize.

The Lightfoot administration isn’t alone in wanting to take action on climate change. Natural disasters like the recent winter prairie fire in Colorado will become more common with climate changeexperts say.

An April report from The Nature Conservancy showed that Illinois’ climate is rapidly becoming warmer and wetter, signaling a growing threat to the state’s agriculture, human health and ecosystems.

In September, Governor JB Pritzker signed a radical overhaul of the energy policy he hailed as “a giant leap in mitigating the impacts of climate change” and which aims to put Illinois on a path to 100% carbon-free energy by 2045.

And in the final months of 2021, global envoys spent two weeks in Glasgow, Scotland, agreeing measures target greenhouse gas emissions. Some said they were disappointed with the results, which include the “phasing out” of coal power, carbon trading opportunities and financial incentives; while others, like US climate envoy John Kerry, said it brought the planet closer “to avoiding climate chaos”.

sahmad@chicagotribune.com