THE BLOG
06/26/2013 03:30 pm ET Updated Aug 26, 2013

Chicago Supports President Obama on Climate Change

Tuesday, President Obama stepped forward and provided leadership on key climate issues that should resonate throughout the nation. The fact of the matter is that addressing the issues of climate change is a key area of focus that must have national attention and cooperation.

Cities can drive dramatic improvements on climate but we can't do it alone. As the Mayor of Chicago, I see the both the benefits of tackling this challenge and the threats that remain. Chicago is healthier and more economically vibrant as we work to reduce our emissions.

When I took office there were two coal-fired power plants operating in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods of Chicago. Today those plants are closed and for the first time in decades our children are growing up safer without worrying about this pollution Chicago has continued to remove coal wherever possible, and our recent electricity aggregation is lowering electricity bills for residents and small business throughout the City.

Every year Chicagoans spend about $3 billion to heat, cool and operate more than 500,000 buildings. There is tremendous benefit in increasing energy efficiency in buildings, savings dollars, creating jobs, making buildings more comfortable and reducing our emissions.

Last year we launched Retrofit Chicago, our comprehensive effort to reduce energy use across buildings. This applies to municipal buildings, commercial buildings, and residential buildings, and will completely change the awareness of the use of energy in the city of Chicago.

To further accelerate energy efficiency today I introduced an ordinance that will require energy benchmarking and disclosure for thousands of the largest commercial, residential and municipal buildings in Chicago. One percent of all buildings in the city collectively use 22 percent of all building energy use. Data transparency unlocks markets, and an energy reduction by these buildings of just 5 percent would result in approximately $250 million in investment and be equivalent to taking over 50,000 cars off the road.

Chicago's climate challenges are the same challenges being faced around the nation. We must all look at the ongoing impacts of climate change and develop smart, efficient solutions that will allow us to reduce energy usage and create a more sustainable environment for the future.

That is what makes the president's historic actions from yesterday so critical. He sees that now is the time to take real action on climate matters, and he also sees that good stewardship of the environment is also good business. We can save money and create jobs for our residents while protecting the environment and building a sustainable future for our children. Now is the time.

The City of Chicago supports President Obama in these historic efforts, and I am hopeful that the rest of the nation follows suit.