The Windy City is getting even windier. (And yes, we're talking about wind power.) Last year, Illinois announced the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act, putting the state on a path toward 100 percent clean energy by 2050. But this week, Chicago, Illinois took things a step further by passing legislation committing to running the city on 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2040, the Sierra Club reported.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed the resolution, which was drafted by the city council, into law on Wednesday, April 10. The legislation, known as R2019-157, or Support for Implementation of Clean Energy Transition Plan, was published on the City of Chicago's website.
The resolution explains that Chicago intends to develop a transition plan by December 2020, which will "outline key strategies, set progression milestones, develop a timeline for reaching an equitable clean energy transition, and further opportunities to create a 100 percent clean, renewable energy future community-wide." One of the main tenants of the resolution is that Chicago will power all of its buildings with renewable energy by 2035.
What's the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?
Moving to clean energy is key to combating climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated.
Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. Plus, improvements in the energy intensity of the global economy (the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity) are slowing. In 2018 energy intensity improved by 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010.
Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system.
Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions.
To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials Platform is working on initiatives including, Systemic Efficiency, Innovation and Clean Energy and the Global Battery Alliance to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions.
Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.
In addition, the transition plan will address issues including: providing benefits for residents who switch to clean energy providers; engaging communities and community leaders to make sure the residents' needs and concerns are heard; making sure environmental and public health policies recognize communities of color and low-income communities; and promoting eco-friendly and accessible forms of transportation.
And speaking of transportation, according to the Sierra Club, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is already on board with the project, and the group has a plan to convert its 1,850 buses to electric power by the year 2040.
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As noted by Smart Cities Drive, Chicago is the largest U.S. city to set an official goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy. Because Chicago set this goal, the city is now a member of the Ready for 100 club, which is a group of more than 100 U.S. cities with similar commitments.
Kyra Woods is an organizer for the Sierra Club's Illinois chapter and for the Ready For 100 Chicago Collective, a city-wide coalition comprised of a group of community organizations that has been working towards passing the clean energy resolution. "Setting the goal to power our city with 100 percent clean, renewable energy is a monumental achievement. It is through bold, local action that we can enable meaningful participation and cultivate strong benefits for our local communities throughout this process," Woods said in a statement in a press release on the Sierra Club's website. "Setting a goal is just the beginning; Sierra Club looks forward to our continued collaboration with community groups, the City of Chicago, businesses, and other stakeholders as we advance a just, clean energy transition for all of Chicago."
Chicago still has a long way to go when it comes to planning and instituting all the necessary changes to achieve 100 clean energy, but it's exciting that such a large U.S. city is officially working towards such an important goal.