CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot outlined Chicago’s climate action plan for 2022 while touring a Southwest Side facility that aims to usher in an era of a sustainable Chicago.
An old Chicago firehouse in Back of the Yards is getting new life as a hub for Plant Chicago’s circular economy initiatives.
“We have to transition away from an economy based on disposability,” Plant Chicago executive director Jonathan Pereira said.
Lightfoot said one of the city’s most significant goals is to reduce emissions by 62 percent by 2040.
The full strategy will be released in the coming weeks, though the plan has five pillars. The city aims to lower utility costs, reduce waste and emissions, expand walking, biking and transit options, investing in clean energy and protecting health, all with equity in mind.
The plan comes as the American Lung Association again ranks Chicago among the 25 worst cities in the country for annual particle pollution and high ozone days.
In the new State of the Air report, Cook County and most of the collar counties earned an “F” grade when it comes to smog, along with a warning to residents that the air they breathe may put their health at risk.
“Particles of all sizes are harmful to health when inhaled. Even particle pollution can cause lung cancer. Ozone can damage the tissues of the respiratory tract,” Kristina Hamilton said.
Hamilton is the American Lung Association’s Illinois Advocacy Director.
“We find that communities of color are 3.6 times more likely to live in a county that received an “F” grade for all three of the pollutants. This is due to decades of racist practices and policies that have been put into place to put low income communities in less desirable communities or places that have higher pollution,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that while the city and state are taking promising steps, she said the EPA must strengthen standards on particulate matter to help clean up the air.