Letters: Illinois should be ambitious in tackling the climate crisis

Letter to the Editor | Chicago Tribune

A growing number of states have adopted sweeping new climate legislation that will result in eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by or before 2050, but so far Illinois lags behind. At present only 8% of our energy comes from renewable sources with a goal of reaching 25% by 2025.

We think it is absolutely imperative that Illinois — the fifth-largest state economy in the country — transition our economy to pollution-free renewable energy as soon as possible so we can join the ranks of the states now in the forefront such as California and Colorado.

The most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report states that we have just 10 years to reduce our carbon emissions by 45% to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global climate change.

Given the magnitude of the problem, piecemeal efforts will not achieve the critical goals. We therefore ask Gov. J.B. Pritzker and state lawmakers for their leadership in developing an ambitious, holistic and comprehensive plan.

We can achieve these forward-looking goals and put the state on the path to a prosperous future, leading the development of the energy technology of the future.

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Here are the key components of such a holistic plan:

Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. This bill currently before the state legislature will put Illinois on a path to electrifying the transportation sector and reducing our energy consumption, and will be an important first step in enabling our state to be powered with 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Stop all further development of oil/gas pipelines in Illinois.

Divest fossil fuel holdings from our Illinois state pension plans. Illinois should invest in technologies of the future, not the past.

De-carbonize using Illinois’ natural resources. Illinois forests, prairies and wetlands represent significant carbon sinks. The 2018 IPCC report states that our natural resources can sequester up to 20% of our annual emissions.

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Establish a timetable to transition Illinois from nuclear power. Our 11 nuclear reactors, which provide about half of our electric energy, are nearing the end of their life expectancy.

Pass the referendum for a “Fair Tax” in 2020. It will bring $3.4 billion annually to Illinois, which will help fund our energy transformation.

Illinois can become a leader in addressing our climate crisis and demonstrate accountable governing. We are all in this together and look forward to working with state leadership to make it happen.

— M. Catherine Buntin, Chicago Area Peace Action Climate Group; Lauren Marquez-Viso, Citizens’ Greener Evanston; Jennifer Linton, Climate Reality Project; and Demi Mathews, Save Our Illinois Land

Read the letter at the Chicago Tribune.