Chicago to host global summit on climate change

Mayor Rahm Emanuel | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times file photo

Mayors who opted to go it alone on reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming–even after President Donald Trump rejected the Paris climate agreement–will gather in Chicago in December to share their ideas.

On Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, Chicago will host a “Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy North American Climate Summit” that brings together leaders of, what Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls the “NAFTA cities” in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Participating leaders will include: Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo; Montreal’s Denis Coderre; Austin Mayor Steve Adler; Atlanta’s Kasim Reed and a host of other mayors from around the world.

Together the mayors will talk about the progress they’ve made, then celebrate the “most innovative and impactful efforts to tackle climate change” during the Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards that will coincide with the two-day Chicago summit.

“We’ll all sign our customized plans on how we’re gonna reach the Paris protocols, then make our information public…on a benchmark basis so we can show what contributions we’re making,” Emanuel said Monday during a panel discussion on the subject of climate change hosted by the New York Times.

“You’re not out of capacity just because the federal government is out of will….We’re 40 percent of our way toward the Paris agreement already…Every building…will now get a rating—up to four stars—so that consumers can demand a better building.”

Earlier this year, Emanuel made a commitment to shift electricity use at more than 900 government buildings to “100 percent renewable energy” by 2025, under an ambitious plan that contrasts sharply with Trump’s environmental retreat.

On Monday, Emanuel talked about two things that have changed in the “trajectory of climate change and public opinion and engagement” about it.

First, people no longer see reducing greenhouse emissions as, what the mayor called a “threat to economic vitality.” That’s a “major shift…to where the debate was 20 years ago around Kyoto,” the mayor said.

The second change was caused by extreme weather events, including Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, along with “world events” that include “drought, refugee, migration issues in Europe,” Emanuel said.

“People now realize that this is real….They’re seeing events where cities are coming under terror based on environmental degradation,” Emanuel said.

“It’s incumbent on us…to continue to show examples where making good policies on climate change and greenhouse gases complement your social and economic goals. If we can do that, you’re gonna continue to get public support for bolder and bolder actions that reach deeper and deeper in making sure we stay on track for 2025.”

Previously from Chicago