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Make Illinois a global leader in fight against climate change

The Illinois Legislature can act this summer.

Nuclear Plant
Exelon Corp.’s nuclear plant in Byron.
Robert Ray/AP

As a constituent of Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, I couldn’t agree more with the Sun-Times’ Editorial “Stop the stall. Enact a strong pro-climate energy bill for Illinois.” I am troubled by Sen. Harmpon’s lack of leadership, especially in light of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released last Monday.

The report confirms what we’ve known for a long time: Without immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere, humanity faces an increasingly unpredictable climate. There will be dire consequences for agriculture, infrastructure and our way of life.

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Luckily, the state Legislature can act this summer. As a result of years of organizing by communities across the state, there is a landmark climate action bill pending in Springfield: the Consumers and Climate First Act. A compromise agreement among environmentalists, community advocates and organized labor, this bill would put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050. It also would promote green energy and manufacturing investment in communities hit hardest by environmental injustice.

The fossil fuel industry, however, has been pushing to weaken the bill. They would rather that one of the country’s largest coal plants be allowed to operate for decades longer. Without legislation that provides a clear timeline for decarbonization and investments in equity, Illinois will be woefully unprepared to deal with this climate crisis. We will leave future generations with an uninhabitable Earth.

We need bold leadership from Harmon, who seems to have forgotten that he represents one of the most progressive communities in the state.

Tucker Bonnell, Oak Park

Lightfoot’s support for Eric Carter

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has defended Police First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter for his decision to forego the playing of bagpipes outside the Cook County medical examiner’s office — a time-honored tradition — for slain Officer Ella French.

What the mayor fails to understand is that Carter was beyond insensitive when he said: “We don’t have 20 minutes for this s…” He was callous and outright rude.

Given Lightfoot’s own track record of rude and insensitive remarks, it’s understandable that she thinks the first deputy superintendent did nothing wrong,

John Livaich, Oak Lawn

Climate change and working people

I’ve worked installing solar electrical systems in Illinois for six years. I show up to work every day knowing that I’m building the future and leaving behind a better planet for our kids.

Climate change is already here in Illinois. Just look at this spring’s flash floods. Look at the drought we’re in. Extreme weather events are hitting working people first and worst. And those of us on the frontlines of the clean energy economy know that this is a serious, life-or-death crisis. Which is why we need our state leaders to act — now.

But we have to get it right. Our response to climate change can’t come at the expense of working people or the communities of color that have gotten the short end of the stick for decades. We need investments in renewable energy that create good-paying union careers like mine — not low-wage jobs that let people barely scrape by.

We also need to make sure our transition away from fossil fuels does right by the workers in those older industries. We must make sure that the new climate jobs are better than the old jobs we are leaving behind.

This is our chance to right decades of wrongs. We can take on racial and income inequality in Illinois by expanding opportunities for good union jobs in communities that have been long excluded from them. This means creating jobs that pay a prevailing wage. This means creating more career pathways for Black, Indigenous and people of color through apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

We have one shot to pass a bold climate bill that creates good climate jobs and sets Illinois on a path to net-zero emissions. Working people are counting on our state’s elected leaders to get it done this month.

Fabian Abrego, Solar Electrical Installer

Freedom goes both ways

People who are screaming “freedom of choice” about vaccinations are rallying against anyone making life-altering decisions for them, yet isn’t that exactly what they’re doing to others by potentially infecting everyone they come in contact with?

If they don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s their Just stay away from every other human being. We don’t want them making decisions for us.

Louise Bajorek, Burbank