Image Source: Jokiewalker-

On July 6, newly elected Mayor Brandon Johnson’s transition team provided the city plan for a “Chicago Green New Deal.” Mayor Johnson, a longtime Chicago teacher and union organizer, ran a social justice campaign stressing the disproportionate impacts polluting industry and changing climate have on communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. 

The environmental justice subcommittee of the mayor’s transition committee included 25 members from business, civic, social justice, and community-based organizations. Its recommendations focused on a Green New Deal for Chicago, a framework meant to serve “as guiding principles for our efforts to realize a cleaner, healthier, more just, and sustainable city.” Major goals include:

  • Ensure effective environmental justice oversight and responsiveness
  • Fully resource a new Department of Environment with a focus on environmental justice
  • Achieve a Green New Deal for water
  • Secure a just transition to an equitable, decarbonized Chicago
  • Guarantee utilities are provided in a fair, equitable and affordable manner with an investment emphasis on communities facing the greatest utility burden
  • Achieve a Green New Deal for schools 

The environmental justice recommendations also emphasized the need for job opportunities for communities in clean energy transition and other environmental efforts like accelerating lead service line replacement and electrification of buildings.

Jung Yoon, a co-chair of the environmental justice subcommittee and campaign director at Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of community and labor organizations, said,

The framing is intentionally political and intentionally bold about using a frame of a Green New Deal to address environment and climate justice issues. I think there is a lot of excitement around how Chicago, as the third-largest city, can really pave the way to show what a Green New Deal in action can look like in our city so we can address current environmental and economic and racial disparities in a sustainable future.