This week, the UN is shining a spotlight on climate change at its week-long Climate Action Summit in New York City. While our federal government has taken a step back when it comes to combating climate change, there are many actions that individuals, businesses and local governments can take to enact climate change solutions. Below are just a few recommendations of places to start:
As of 2017, the transportation sector has become the largest producer of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States. People can make a difference in advancing climate change solutions by changing how we go from place to place. Walking more and biking more are healthier and avoid pollution. Our public transit systems provide wide access and are modernizing. We must use a growing system of bikeways, walkways and transit options.
Energy efficiency improvements are the best, fastest and cheapest climate change solution. Energy efficiency saves people money on their utility bills and helps businesses’ bottom lines. For example, you can install smart thermostats, efficient LED lighting, more efficient Energy Star refrigerators, air conditioners and appliances. Each will avoid pollution, save you money, and keep energy dollars in our City neighborhoods. Let’s be smart and more energy efficient. Check out solar panels, too!
In 2017, transportation took the crown away from power plants as the nation’s No. 1 source of greenhouse gas pollution. Mayors can advance climate leadership by working to implement all electric bus fleets. It’s also important to charge the buses and cars with renewable energy in order to avoid “trading carbon for carbon.” Electrifying the entire fleet of 1,864 buses in Chicago would be the equivalent of taking almost 43,000 cars off the road. Imagine the impact if the 11,000 pieces of equipment and vehicles maintained by the Department of Fleet and Facility Management follow suit.
Just as in personal homes, energy efficiency improvements in all buildings are the best, fastest and cheapest climate change solution. Investments in energy efficiency can save cities money, and help businesses’ bottom lines. Much of our utility bills cover costs of fuel like natural gas, coal and uranium, which are not produced in Chicago. Better HVAC systems, more efficient LED lighting, more efficient building structures and windows will avoid pollution, save money, and keep energy dollars in our City.
Chicago’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program and other funding mechanisms can help. This is both an environmental plan and an economic opportunity to create more jobs in a growing field that included more than 450 Illinois companies engaged in the clean energy business supply chain.
See more recommendations from environmental leaders on what actions you can take to combat climate change (including some of my recommendations above) here.