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Chicago Plans 25 Percent Reduction Below 1990 Levels by 2020

Chicago Mayor unveils plan to sharply lower carbon dioxide emissions

City task force may aim for 25% reduction from 1990 levels in 12 years

Chicago Tribune, Sept. 19, 2008


Seeking to burnish his claim that Chicago aspires to be the nation's most environmentally friendly city, Mayor Richard Daley rolled out a plan Thursday to sharply reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the key greenhouse gas.

The city should aim for a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels within 12 years, according to the report from Daley's 26-member Chicago Climate Task Force.

The report suggests a range of solutions, including investing more in public transit and installing additional green roofslong a favorite initiative of the mayor.

A central suggestion is to retrofit homes and commercial buildings to reduce energy consumption. The task force said 70 percent of
Chicago's greenhouse emissions are due to buildings.

The Tribune first reported on the work of the task force in November. At that time, former President Bill Clinton visited
Chicago to announce financial assistance for retrofits of large commercial buildings.

But besides general policy directives, the final report does not call for creating specific requirements.

"We don't want to just force it on the business community and then in turn cost them enormous amounts of money," Daley said. "We think we can lead by example. That is the key and, of course, educating the public [about] what they can do individually."

City Hall hasn't always set a sterling example on "green" issues. The city's emissions of greenhouse gases have soared since Daley promised to make
Chicago a leader in reducing emissions, the Tribune reported last year.

The mayor's highly touted blue-bag residential recycling program fell far short of its goals and is set to be replaced across the city by a suburban-style curbside system by 2011.

"Yes, we are ambitious, but we do have a plan that outlines ways that we can achieve it," said Sadhu Johnston, Daley's top aide for environmental issues. "We know we can't do it without every Chicagoan joining us, every business and every institution."

The plan calls on every city resident to reduce their emissions by making 13 changes listed at Complying with the changes would save you more than $800 a year. Lowering your thermostat by 3 degrees, for example, would shave $129 in energy costs.

Daley shrugged off critics who say global warming is not real.

"Global warming is a hoax?" he said. "I think scientists and professional people have disproven that. I mean, there's a theory out there, but if you read any major magazine articles by professional scientists and research people, they have refuted that pretty clearly."

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