intense storms thunderhead anvil

climate action plans in the Chicago region

intense storms thunderhead anvil
More intense storms accompany climate change in the midwestern United States. (photo by joe mazza / brave lux)

Several communities in the Chicago region have developed climate action plans.  These plans typically include mitigation and adaptation strategies.

If you know of a plan that isn’t included in this list, please contact us.

Since the announcement that the US will back out of the Paris Agreement on climate change— many cities, states, universities and corporations have pledged that they will “continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement,” saying “We Are Still In“.  Several cities from Illinois, including Chicago, Elgin, Evanston and Highland Park– and the Illinois Attorney General– have signed the open letter in support of climate action.

climate action plans for nature

Conservation organizations are seeing the effects of climate change on natural areas and are making plans for mitigation, adaptation and education.

Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature (March 2010)

National Park Service Climate Friendly Parks

municipal climate action plans in Illinois

Many municipalities have signed the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.  Others have taken the further step of developing climate action plans; some of these are broadly defined as sustainability plans.

Alton Climate Action Plan (March 2011)

Aurora Sustainability Plan (2009)

Chicago Climate Action Plan (September 2008) ^ *

Elgin Sustainability Action Plan (August 2011) ^

Evanston Climate Action Plan (November 2008) ^

Highland Park Community Sustainability Strategic Plan (August 2010) ^

Lake County Strategy for a Sustainable Lake County (2009, updated 2015)

Lombard Local Climate Action Plan (January 2012)

Niles Environmental Action Plan (February 2013)

Oak Park River Forest Sustainability Plan (June 2011)

Park Forest Sustainability Plan (May 2012)

River Forest (and Oak Park) Sustainability Plan (June 2011)

Schaumburg Green Action Plan (2009)

Urbana Climate Action Plan (phase 2) (August 2012) *

Woodstock Environmental Plan (2010)

^ mayors of these cities have signed the open letter in support of the Paris Agreement: We Are Still In

*these cities have signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

regional sustainability and climate action plans

Regional plans for Illinois address issues across municipal boundaries and sometimes include explicit climate change strategies in broader planning processes.

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning / CMAP GO TO 2040 (October 2010)

The Chicago Regional Green Transit Plan (May 2012)

Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group / Illinois EPA

In Wisconsin, technical reports are available from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts and personal stories featured on Climate Wisconsin.

In northern Indiana and northern Illinois, the technical reports referenced in the Chicago Climate Action Plan will be useful.


university climate action plans

Many universities have developed climate action plans; here are a few of them. (this is an incomplete list)

Illinois Institute of Technology (August 2010)

Loyola University- Chicago

University of Illinois Chicago (September 2009)

University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign (May 2010)


tools for developing climate action plans

If your community doesn’t have a climate action or sustainability plan, there may be an environmental commission or a community group working on one.  Search online for ‘environmental commission {name of your community}’ or ‘go green {name of your community}’ to find out about community-based environmental initiatives.

More than 7000 cities throughout the world have signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to build a resilient future.

If you are interested in developing a climate action plan for your community, several toolkits are available to help you.  Here are a few:

Climate Adaptation Guidebook for Municipalities in the Chicago Region & Toolkit

This guidebook by CMAP (the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) provides helpful strategies from a planner’s perspective, with sections on wastewater, building codes, infectious disease, air quality and more.  Published June 2013.


ICLEI, also known as Local Governments for Sustainability, provides tools and guidance for local government planning and action on climate change, clean energy and sustainability.

Preparing for Climate Change:  A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments

This guidebook lays out the steps for preparing a climate action plan in your community.  Published in 2007 with Climate Impacts Group, King County Washington and ICLEI with many contributors.

Sierra Club Cool Cities Program

This collaboration among community members, organizations, businesses and local leaders shares resources and examples of local climate action.  Residents have begun community campaigns in many towns communities in Illinois; find them here.


The EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program offers guidance for creating and implementing local climate action plans.

the latest climate science

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an important resource for understanding the global scale and impacts of climate change, as well as the scientific consensus on climate change.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment, published in 2017, is specific to the United States and focuses on the science of climate change.  The previous assessment, in 2014, is still useful and includes chapters that focus on themes and sectors, including agriculture, water, transportation, forests, etc. There are also chapters on each region of the country, including the Midwest.

last updated:  6/18/2014 (partial updates 3/2018)