City of Chicago, Illinois: Climate Action Plan for the Chicago Region

The Climate Action Plan for the Chicago Region identifies climate change mitigation and adaptation actions that will be implemented by a group of 275 cities, villages and towns in seven counties in the greater Chicago area. The plan was produced by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and is one of the first regional climate plans produced within the United States. Through a multi-jurisdictional approach, the plan commits the municipalities to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions and creating more resilient communities by 2050.

The action plan calls for implementing climate-resilient governance by 2030; resilience across jurisdictions by 2040; and achieving cohesive, resilient communities by 2050 — the same time as net-zero GHG emissions is targeted. Climate-resilient governance will require that local governments incorporate resilience into permitting and legislation, and establish baselines for resilience. Resilience across jurisdictions will secure financing and funding for adaptation projects across jurisdictions. Cohesive, resilient communities will implement new infrastructure that will help to decrease community vulnerability and risk to climate impacts by incorporating climate projections into operations, management, and planning. Overall, the plan’s objectives on adaptation are:

  1. Engage and educate communities in the region on climate resilience and adaptation.
  2. Incorporate equity and inclusion into climate adaptation.
  3. Collaborate and build capacity for resilience.
  4. Enact plans and policies on adaptation and resilience.
  5. Adapt operations and investments for future climate conditions.

In developing the plan, the Mayors Caucus worked with various stakeholders throughout northeast Illinois to apply risk assessment methods to identify the hazards that have the highest likelihood of occurring and their consequences for the region. The six high-priority regional climate hazards with the greatest risks to people, assets and resources are:

  • Heat and health;
  • Flooding and homes;
  • Flooding and infrastructure;
  • Flooding and transportation;
  • Drought and water supply; and
  • Air quality, flooding, and public health.

The plan applies the five adaptation objectives to the adaptation strategies recommended and to each of the six risk areas. For example, on flooding and transportation, the plan calls for assuring that frontline communities have access to transportation during flooding events, assessing risks to transportation in the region, and incorporating county hazard mitigation plans into local plans and policies.

 

Addressing inequitable risks from climate change and access to decision making and outcomes from the plan is addressed throughout the action plan. For example, on heat and health, the plan calls for including vulnerable communities in planning and ensuring they have access to cooling services during heat waves.

 

 

The plan also provides details on mitigation actions to reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon. As part of this, the action plan has a section on cross-cutting objectives and co-benefits that identifies how specific mitigation actions have adaptation benefits and adaptation actions have mitigation benefits.

Among the appendixes to the plan is a description of climate change in Illinois and more specific information on mitigation and adaptation actions. The appendix on adaptation lists each adaptation strategy, and for each action, identifies which hazards the action addresses; whether the action has already been proven or is evolving; relative costs and effort needed to implement it; lead resources and partners; and outcomes should the strategy be implemented, including co-benefits. The final appendix presents the regional risk and vulnerability assessment.

The action plan was prepared by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, which was founded in 1997 by then-Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley to work on a wide range of public policy issues facing northeast Illinois. Among the initiatives created by the Mayors Caucus is the Greenest Region Compact, which commits 153 signatories in the region to support sustainability. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning assisted stakeholder engagement and gave advice to the Mayors Caucus on elements of the climate action plan. Workshops were held to obtain input from stakeholders, and were attended by 270 participants representing 175 organizations, including 53 municipalities in the region. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office provided contractor support to apply the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit in helping to develop the plan. In addition, the European Union’s International Urban Cooperation program, which is supporting regional climate action planning in five regions in the U.S. and in regions around the world, facilitated information sharing and meetings with representatives from those regions.

Publication Date: June 2021

Related Organizations:

  • Metropolitan Mayors Caucus

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  • Adaptation plan

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