How Should Chicago Handle a ‘Climate Emergency’?


Ald. Matt Martin would like to declare a state of emergency.

The 47th Ward freshman alderman introduced a resolution declaring a state of climate emergency at a Chicago City Council meeting last week.

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“I thought it would be important for a framing device to reiterate that we have this climate change crisis that’s impacting Chicago just as it’s impacting Illinois, the rest of the country and the rest of the world,” Martin said. “And it calls upon the city of Chicago to collaborate with the mayor’s office to take the appropriate action.”

The resolution calls for a citywide “emergency mobilization” to make budgetary and policy changes that will reduce Chicago’s carbon emissions, like phasing out fossil fuels and adopting regenerative agriculture.

It references natural events and weather-related incidents in Chicago and beyond, including flooding, lakefront erosion and “increasing and intensifying wildfires.”

Also introduced on Wednesday was a proposed citywide ban on Styrofoam containers and a limit on plastic utensils and straws.

Frank Lasée, president of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank, said recyclable products could negatively alter prices for Chicago consumers and businesses.

“It’ll be disruptive in the marketplace,” Lasée said. “The powerful question is what’s the alternative and what is the alternative cost and will it fill the desires of the people out there?” 

Martin said Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office has conveyed support for the climate emergency resolution and he plans to work with the resolution’s co-sponsor, 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas, chairman of city council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, to schedule a subject matter hearing.

Martin and Lasée join “Chicago Tonight” in discussion.


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