Cassie Buchman | Lincoln Courier
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed an executive order for Illinois to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, meaning the state will agree to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The United States signed onto the Paris Agreement, a treaty that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in 2016. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in June 2017, saying the pact would hurt the U.S. economy. In response, the Climate Alliance was formed so individual states and territories could sign onto the standards.
Pritzker, speaking alongside environmental advocates at a news conference at Southwind Park’s Erin’s Pavilion in Springfield on Wednesday, said the executive order shows his administration will “stand on the side of science and of reason.
“We know that climate change is real. We know that it’s a threat,” he said. “I think there’s just no disputing it anymore.”
Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found there are only 12 years left to limit carbon emissions to keep climate change at moderate levels.
“When we think about climate change and the impact, the future is alarming,” she said. “I’m very alarmed by extreme weather events, by the changes that will happen in agriculture, by the changes that will happen throughout Illinois.”
For central Illinois, the consequences could mean a much drier climate, said Jack Darin, director of the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club. Darin said it could also lead to rain coming when it isn’t needed, causing intense flooding.
“The precipitation and climate patterns that sort of underlie our agricultural economy are projected to essentially move south over the decades to come, so that we may not be suitable to produce the kind of crops we do now, certainly not without substantial irrigation and costs,” Darin said.
The region has seen its share of extreme weather throughout the year. But scientists say climate change is going to make these conditions more forceful and more frequent, he said.
“So destructive tornadoes, flooding, extreme heat and cold are going to become more common in decades to come,” Darin said. The severity can be lessened if actions are taken now to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, he added.
“Illinois climate scientists are already telling us that climate change is here, it’s a real threat to our farmers, to our communities, to our public health and most importantly to the future that we want to pass on to our children,” Darin said. “Today Gov. Pritzker is showing the world that even though Donald Trump wants to take America out of the clean energy economy, Illinois is all in.”