LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
How Illinois can combat climate change by embracing renewable energy now
This summer marks the 25th anniversary of Chicago’s 1995 heat wave. The death toll from that wave has kept the city on edge as it has faced more record-breaking high temperatures. This July, Chicago experienced five more days over 90 degrees than average. As climate change progresses, these record temperature streaks will only continue to increase.
The World Health Organization indicates extreme heat directly affects health by increasing rates of heat stroke and dehydration, and cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease. Heat also makes air harder to breathe by increasing ground level ozone or “smog,” translating to higher rates of respiratory disease like asthma, cardiovascular disease and complications from both.
Poor air quality is especially dangerous now given that it is linked to higher rates of COVID-19 deaths, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The communities hardest hit by COVID-19 are communities of color that are also the hottest and most polluted. This cannot continue. We need an effective way to combat climate change that prioritizes vulnerable populations. This is why we need to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) now.
CEJA will transition Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, immediately reducing pollution from the transportation and power plant sectors. This will benefit vulnerable communities hit hardest by this pollution. By mitigating climate change, CEJA will lessen long-term impacts of our warming planet, including the health impacts of severe heat and worsening air quality.
CEJA also prioritizes economic investment in communities hit hardest by these health impacts by increasing equitable access to clean energy careers and requiring clean energy companies are committed to equitable job opportunities.
Illinois can take swift action on climate change and its inequitable impacts. CEJA must be passed now.