Last week we welcomed December with blustery temperatures and 3 noteworthy events related to climate action! December 1st marked the one year anniversary of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA); On December 3rd, nearly 1,500 Chicagoans attended the Chicago Community Climate Forum at the Field Museum; and over December 4th and 5th, Mayor Emanuel hosted representatives from more than 50 cities at the North American Climate Summit. Each unique in its own way, these events engaged constituents and elected officials alike in discussions about the bold, collaborative, and systemic strategies needed to lead our communities, city, and state to a 100% clean energy future. If you’re interested in getting involved with our 100% clean energy campaign work as a volunteer, fill out this form so that we can keep you updated about upcoming training details.
On December 3rd, nearly 1,500 guests attended the Chicago Community Climate Forum at the Field Museum. In celebration of diverse, community-led climate solutions, the evening’s program featured the voices of various environmental leaders from across the city. In addition to the testimonies of the importance of education and advocacy, the program highlighted the critical need to recognize the social injustices that are interwoven with our climate issues. A performance by Kuumba Lynx clearly identified environmental racism as a systemic problem and warned solution seekers that “you can’t go green if you don’t go Black”.
The evening concluded with a video launch of the Chicago Agreement on Climate and Community and a reception designed to inspire conversation and new partnerships among attendees. More than 60 organizations, including the Sierra Club, were involved in coordinating the evening’s program which speaks to the fact that Chicagoans are ready to get to work. We are ready for bold programs and policies to protect our lands, prevent the contamination of our water and air, safeguard our health, ensure access to quality and nutritious food, and develop clean energy opportunities.
In light of the limited federal leadership on climate issues, local governments are putting forth bold and innovative strategies to move America towards a cleaner, healthier future. Over December 4-5, Mayor Emanuel hosted the North American Climate Summit in Chicago. The event brought together mayors from more than 50 cities, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Vancouver Mayor Robertson, and Dar es Salaam Mayor Charles Mwita, and Vice Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors Christiana Figureres to sign the Chicago Climate Charter.
While enabling mayors to make specialized pledges based on their city’s particular needs and assets, the Chicago Charter reflects a baseline of commitments such as: meeting standards of the Paris climate agreement, collaborating with traditionally underrepresented groups in climate policy, and willingness to quantify and publicly report city emissions. As members of panel discussions and during breakout discussions, mayors were able to discuss local climate solutions and challenges they have experienced as they transition to a new climate economy.
As the Summit’s special guest, President Obama thanked attendees for their continued work towards managing and mitigating the climate issues affecting our world. Encouraging guests, he offered that we are each endowed with the ability to make a difference on these issues “wherever we have some impact, wherever we have some influence”. President Obama’s remarks reminded everyone that the work to do be done will involve a sense of collective work and responsibility. Despite what policies may come from Washington, we are able to hold our communities and cities to higher standards to secure a safer and healthier world for ourselves and future generations.
The Summit served as a platform to promote collaborative solution-seeking and a rededication to the globally shared responsibility to improve our environment’s health, safeguard constituents’ health, and equitably construct policy. Despite the tailored emission metrics and localized strategies to achieve them, there was a commonly articulated goal for many mayors at the Summit: developing a 100% clean energy economy.
Mayors from across America and the world offered that a complete transition from fossil fuels was one of the most aggressive and time-withstanding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the rising global temperature. Repeatedly amplifying the message that economic growth can accompany such a transition, mayors who have made 100% renewable energy commitments strongly encouraged others to consider doing the same. Several Ready for 100 mayors were present and proud to share their commitment to an equitable energy transition in their city before 2035.
December’s debut was filled with conversations about climate action and we at the Sierra Club are confident that the momentum will continue into the new year. As our state and city celebrated notable programming and policies, we are sure that Illinois and Chicago are ready for bold leadership, innovative strategies, and strong community-wide partnerships. Are you ready? If so, keep reading!
This year, we’ll be supporting volunteer leaders across the state, as they work to get their municipalities to commit to 100% clean energy as a long term goal. Are you interested in learning how to lead or engage in a bold + equitable campaign around clean energy justice in your community? We’ll be hosting a training in 2018 for volunteers across the state who want to launch 100% campaigns in their communities. Let us know if you’re interested in joining by filling out this form and we’ll keep you updated.