With one day left before Chicagoans choose their next mayor, residents hold the fate of the next four years of environmental policy in their hands. In a recent op-ed published in Crain’s Chicago Business, Openlands’ CEO Jerry Adelmann explains why Chicagoans are not exempt from climate-related risks and why environmental issues need to be taken off the back burner and made a priority by the next mayor.
The op-ed focuses on the following key ideas:
- Cities are on the front lines of climate change and as the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago has a responsibility to lead the world in creating a climate-resilient and environmentally friendly urban area.
- Chicago needs to reinstate a Department of Environment and create an overarching city plan to increase greenspaces and green jobs, and restore critical ecosystems like prairies and wetlands that improve water quality and support wildlife.
- Environmental justice, nature-based solutions, and regional collaboration need to be key areas of focus. The next administration needs to bring community leaders to the forefront of decision-making and create inclusive policies that protect historically marginalized communities.
- Growing and maintaining Chicago’s tree canopy should be a priority for the next mayor, as trees are one of the most basic and critical nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. The new mayor needs to provide staffing and support to the newly elected Urban Forestry Advisory Board and adopt the Board’s policy recommendations.
- Cities contribute to the biodiversity crisis through pollution, overexploitation, and habitat fragmentation. The next mayor needs to transcend political boundaries and pass habitat-friendly laws and policies across the metropolitan area.
- The Department of Environment should leverage the Inflation Reduction Act and help to identify, apply, secure, and manage new funds and serve as a regional hub for collaboration.
Crain’s Chicago Business subscribers can view the full article here.