Report: Chicago Climate Charter One Year Later

December 21, 2018

The UN climate conference concluded last week with nearly 200 countries agreeing to keep the Paris climate accord alive, however, there are several disagreements on the way forward. The dysfunction amongst national governments stands in contrast to the leading role cities have taken on climate change, according to a new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The report, “The Chicago Climate Charter: North American Cities Take Action on Climate,” is a summary report and reflection on last year’s North American Climate Summit, hosted by the City of Chicago and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The summit brought together more than 50 cities, representing 60 million people, to formulate a climate action plan. Since then, more than 70 global cities have signed on to take collective action to address climate change within their cities.

“Following President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris agreement, Chicago was one of the first US cities to recommit to the carbon-reduction goals,” said Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of the City of Chicago. “When we created the Chicago Climate Charter, we made a commitment to our residents and to the world to make sustainable, measurable progress in the fight against climate change and to stand up where our national governments have fallen down.”

The report outlines the commitments made by signatories to the Chicago Charter, and provides recommendations for cities seeking to accelerate their sustainability efforts. All signatories committed to the following:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Track, measure, and report the data
  • Empower cities through collective action
  • Engage all communities, especially nontraditional voices, in policy formation
  • Integrate climate risks into infrastructure and emergency planning
  • Support polices and actions that incorporate the cost of carbon and suppose those most impacted
  • Partner broadly for robust solutions


Additionally, the charter provides cities the opportunity to sign voluntary and customizable commitments around renewable energy, embodied carbon, mobility, sustainable transportation, waste management, and green space.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, yet it faces a crisis of leadership at the national level,” said Ambassador Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Cities are uniquely capable of identifying and implementing innovative solutions and approaches to combat climate change that deliver local results and catalyze broader societal change.”

Turning the tide on climate change is a process that will take time. The Chicago Climate Charter provides a launch point for coordinated and forceful action as cities continue to recognize their capacity and take a leadership role on climate issues.

Visit our digital interactive and download the full report here.