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Inside the city’s climate plan

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

I’m baaaaaack! Your fav newsletter writer is feeling relaxed and refreshed after a week in Hawaii — and admittedly a little jet-lagged and sunburnt, too. Big thanks to my City Cast co-workers for filling in for me!


Mayor Lori Lightfoot provided an overview of Chicago’s 2022 Climate Action Plan Friday. 

What’re some of the goals outlined in the plan? 

  • Reducing carbon emissions 62% by 2040.
  • Building a zero-emission transportation network. 
  • Placing more air quality monitors across the city. 
  • Promoting reusable energy use. 
  • Making community racial equity–backed health investments. 

But the plan has been met with mixed responses.

Groups like Equiticity, a West Side mobility justice group, spoke favorably of the plan’s efforts to make marginalized communities more pedestrian- and biker-friendly and more accessible via transit. 

Others like Anthony Moser of the Neighbors for Environmental Justice in McKinley Park said it’s not enough for the city to just measure air quality but what’s affecting air quality, too, he told the Chicago Sun-Times. (Just last week, the American Lung Association said Chicago was one of most-polluted cities in the country.)

Some like Streetsblog Chicago’s John Greenfield expressed skepticism of the city’s commitment to improving public transit in the wake of Lightfoot’s looming gas card giveaway. (Greenfield notes that she is also giving away Ventra passes to accommodate the high prices of gas.)

Skepticism of the plan isn’t unwarranted. The city fell short of its 2008 goals, including cutting carbon emissions 15% instead of 25% by 2020, WBEZ reported.

And many green efforts took a backseat during the budget-cutting years of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who shut down the city’s environment department, according to WTTW. 

But the growing number of climate crises has reinvigorated public interest and concern in environmental causes: City officials estimated 1,800 people participated in climate plan town halls and surveys.

How can you get involved? Watch out for the entire updated plan when it’s released in the coming weeks, and check out this list of what Chicagoans can do individually about climate change.


Ald. Nicole Lee of the 11th Ward is headed to her first full City Council meeting Wednesday, weeks after she was appointed by Lightfoot following the conviction of ex–Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson. 

Lee, the city’s second-ever Asian American alderperson, joins City Council as the Black and Latino Caucuses remain gridlocked over the ward remap, both of whom have proposed the city’s first Asian American–majority ward be in Lee’s Chinatown. 

🎧 Lee sits down with City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran to tell us more about who she is and what she hopes to accomplish.


▪️ Applications for Chicago’s guaranteed income pilot open today. About 5,000 households could receive $500 every month for a year as part of the nation’s largest program of its kind. [WBEZ]

▪️ Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx overturned 44 more convictions connected to ex–police Sgt. Ronald Watts, who falsified evidence and extorted residents living in the Ida B. Wells Homes in Bronzeville in the 2000s. [CBS Chicago]

▪️ Waldos Forever Fest, a 420-friendly street fest, was canceled after a nearby fire in Andersonville broke out Saturday. Some shows were rescheduled Sunday. 

▪️ The Cubs won 21-0 (!) against the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday, a first in franchise history. White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez is out with a hamstring injury for the next 6–8 weeks. The Bulls are down 3–1 in the playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks after losing both home games this weekend. [Bleed Cubbie Blue; Sox on 35th; Blog A Bull]

▪️ Monty the Piping Plover was spotted back at Montrose Beach. But some are heeding birders against becoming plover paparazzi for the bird’s safety. [WTTW]

▪️ Prominent artist Judy Chicago and up-and-coming fashion designer Jameel Mohammed share advice for creatives. [New York Times]


It was a sunny Saturday, and we know some of you all were chowing down at cookouts and BBQs. But…did you grab some potato salad? 

Harvey World Herald’s Amethyst Davis and Block Club Chicago’s Jamie Nesbitt Golden went back and forth about the classic dish on Friday’s show, sparking a little Twitter debate.

Now we’re asking you to weigh in. Yay or nay on potato salad? Fill out this poll — and tell us the other cookout dishes you’re eating!

We also asked about your weekend plans, and reader Dea Black Alexander’s enthusiasm for the warm weather is contagious ☀️

“For all that is fraught with Chicago, I tell ya what, a Chicagoan knows how in the hell to celebrate the first nearly 70° day of the season.” 

Just on her drive home the other day, she saw a guy riding a horse on Hayes Drive in Jackson Park, a family taking pictures in front of cherry blossom trees on the Inner Drive, cars with kayaks on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, and men with fishing poles headed to 51st Street.

And Dea? Well, she cranked Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright” the whooooole way home.

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