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Green Jobs Now

Chicagoans from Altgeld Gardens to the North Park Village Nature Center will participate in a national day of action for Green Jobs Now on Saturday, September 27, part of some 500 events with tens of thousands of people nationally urging the government to invest in green jobs and clean energy as a solution to poverty and climate change.

At our Lady of the Gardens School, 13300 S. Langley in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood, Blacks In Green is sponsoring an event from noon to 3 p.m. with a range of cultural activities — and farmers from Pembroke Farmers Cooperative in Hopkins Park showing horses and livestock and talking about the need for agricultural jobs in the regional food system.

At the Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento, the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative is sponsoring tours of green buildings and workshops on green trades geared to students in job training programs as well as construction and manufacturing workers. (Tours of the green industrial park Rancho Verde, 2900 W. Ferdinand, take place at 11 and 11:30 a.m., and tours of the Green Center take place at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., with workshops in between.)

Greencorps students will work on installing a rain garden at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski (all day), and the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Bright Leadership Institute will have an informational booth with Green Jobs Now petitions at the Conservatory’s annual perennials exchanage, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 300 N. Central Park.

One goal of the day is to put major federal investment in the emerging green economy on the agenda for the first 100 days of the new administration, said Naomi Davis of BIG — regardless of new budget constraints on the government.

“Just look at the subsidies big oil is getting,” Davis said. “That’s enough money to fund the reinvention of this country with a green economy. Why should [oil companies] continue to be subsidized when they’re the centerpiece of the problem?” (They’re also enjoying windfall profits.)

It’s about jobs, energy security, and a lower-cost energy system, said Kindy Kruller of Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative.

“We can’t drill and burn our way to prosperity. We can and must invent and invest our way there,” said Van Jones, founder and president of Green For All, sponsor of the national effort.

“Right now, there are millions of people ready to work and countless jobs to be done that will strengthen our economy at home,” Jones said. “There are thousands of buildings that need to be weatherized, solar panels to be installed, and wind turbines to be erected. There are communities that need local and sustainable food and people ready to farm the crops. There are public transit systems and smart electricity grids in need of engineers and electricians.

“Americans are ready to build the new economy. It’s time to invest in saving the planet and the people. It’s time for green jobs now.”

Another goal is “letting communities know there are jobs, careers and enterprises in the new green economy,” Davis said.

“All these markets are emerging, and the question is how do we start driving them?” said Kruller. “We especially need more diverse energy and transportation systems.” There are roles for business, consumers, and government, she said.

The Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative focuses on green workforce development. BIG has ambitious visions around “green village building.” They’ve promoted Kennedy King College as a “green hub” for green trades and business education, and are working with the Chicago/Calumet Underground Railroad Effort to envision a green village (encompassing Altgeld Gardens and parts of Roseland) based around a living heritage farm museum at the site of the Jan Ton farm on the Little Calumet River. The farm was a station in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War.

Located central to a five-state network network of hiking and biking trails, a green village and heritage center could be a cultural and eco-tourist destination, Davis said.

She emphasizes the symbolism of the Underground Railroad for today’s activists. “It was an outrageous vision — the abolition of slavery — it was impossible, it was illegal.” And the Underground Railroad brought people together across racial and cultural boundaries — “the same as the new green economy has to do.”

“We need to draw on the spirit of our ancestors and this great American story,” Davis said. “This is a time when such great things are possible.”


Illinois cap-and-trade ‘not effective’

“While cap-and-trade may be the most politically palatable approach for controlling greenhouse gases, it may be the most ineffective and unreliable,” says Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in a statement today.

 PEER reports on three cap-and-trade programs — similar to a plan now under consideration in Congress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — including the Emissions Reduction Market System of the Illinois EPA, which covers some smog-causing emissions. 

PEER cites a 2006 study (pdf) which found the ERMS “does not appear to be effective.”


Challenging the consensus on carbon trading; understanding Iran; Harold Washington, black politics and the media — then and now.

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Coal and Climate Change

Does the new Illinois agenda to reduce global warming emissions conflict with the state’s push to promote coal-fired electricity plants?

Global warming activists will demand “no new coal plants” at a forum this weekend which highlights the gap between the public’s concern and the actions of political leaders.

A forum Saturday, November 3, 12 noon at High Risk Gallery, 113 W. Belmont is sponsored by the Sierra Club and Step It Up, and they’ll be asking elected officials to pledge to oppose new coal plants and support major reductions in carbon emissions and the creation of millions of new green jobs.

Step It Up is planning similar events across the country for November 3 — which is one year before the 2008 election.

City’s Climate Agenda Previewed

Public input in creating the city’s forthcoming Climate Change Action Agenda is the subject of a Monday night forum sponsored by Climate Justice Chicago in Lakeview.

Karen Hobbs and Brendan Daley, deputy commissioners in the city’s Department of the Environment, will report on progress on the agenda and take questions and comments.

Climate Justice Chicago hopes to hold similar forums in neighorhoods around the city, said Lan Richart of Eco-Justice Collaborative.

Mayor Daley plans to present the city’s agenda at GreenBuild, a national conference on green building technology, which takes place November 7 to 9 in Chicago.

Participants are asked to fill out a questionaire available at CJC’s website. A pdf presentation on the city’s agenda is also available there. One of the city’s major emphases is on improving energy efficiency of existing and new buildings, sources say.

Reallocating transportation resource from cars and roads to public transit, and making communities walkable and bikeable, is a major concern for CJC, along with “phasing out coal and nuclear power” as electricity sources, said Dave Kraft of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, a CJC member.

CJC is a coalition that looks at climate issues in a broad context, going beyond purely environmental concerns. “We see global warming as an environmental symptom of an unsustainable economic system,” Kraft said.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology has provided research and a series of recommendations for the city’s agenda-developing process.

CNT president Scott Bernstein is scheduled to give a presentation at the GreenBuild conference on how “thoughtful community decision, following principles of the New Urbanism, can help give individuals the choices they need to cut back on driving and thus reduce their carbon emissions.”

The Climate Justice Chicago forum is sceduled for Monday, October 22, 7 p.m. at the Wellington Avenue United Church, 615 W. Wellington.

For more: Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, 773-989-3346

Dave Kraft, Nuclear Energy Information Service, 773-342-7650

Nicole Gotthelf, Center for Neighborhood Technology, 773-269-4029

On Global Warming

Maybe we could invite Al Gore to Illinois to talk to the governor about mass transit funding (which he wants to cut), or coal power plants (which he wants to build) — two issues highlighted in recent Newstips on local efforts to address global warming.

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Report: Sprawl and Global Warming

Urban development patterns — and public policies that contribute to sprawl — are fueling increases in automobile use that will offset any emissions reductions achieved with new “green” technologies, according to a new report.

In the Chicago region, annual miles traveled per driver grew by 34 percent between 1980 and 2005, in a pattern replicated across the nation, according to “Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change,” a new report from the Urban Land Institute and Smart Growth America.

Per capita vehicle miles traveled, or VMTs, are rising so fast — because sprawl forces people to drive whenever they want to go anywhere, and increases the distances that must be driven — they will more than offset any emissions reductions gained by more efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels, according to the report.

Even with the most stringent fuel-efficiency standards now under consideration, emissions would be 40 percent above 1990 levels in 2030 if development patterns keep VMTs rising at current rates.

The report’s focus on VMTs provides a crucial connection between global warming and “land use patterns that keep us committed to our cars,” said Michael Davidson, manager of the Chicago-area Campaign for Sensible Growth. He said development policies should aim at reducing the need to drive.

“We can implement policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled — and reduce congestion, and improve air quality and quality of life,” he said.

“People want more options for transportation and for housing,” including housing in compact, walkable communities that are accessible to transportation, jobs and services, he said.

“Growing Cooler” calls for changes in a range of government policies that now favor sprawling, auto-dependant development, and for including smart-growth strategies in forthcoming climate change legislation.

Davidson said long-term stable funding for the RTA is a “perfect example” of policies needed to reduce congestion and emissions. “If we don’t have a great transit system with dedicated funding, we’re going to have more people spending more and more time on our roads,” he said.

Good Jobs First, which also touted the new report, has criticized economic development programs in Illinois that subsidize sprawl instead of promoting investment in urban areas that are served by transit.

For more: Michael Davidson, Campaign for Sensible Growth, 312-863-6009

Jeff McCourt, Good Jobs First-Illinois, 312-332-1480

See also: Newstips 8-22-07: Reducing Chicago’s Carbon Footprint

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