local climate action

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

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.

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.

Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts

A source for information, data and strategies focused on Wisconsin, developed by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the University of Wisconsin and many partners.

climate action plans in the Chicago region

Find local climate plans adopted by some local governments in the Chicago region.

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.

National Park Service Climate Friendly Parks

National Fish, Wildlife & Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy from USFWS & NOAA

Adaptation Workbook for Urban Trees

Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy with 5 Landscape Conservation Collaboratives

tools for connecting with communities

To make change that is equitable and enduring, it’s important to connect with people.  Explore these community toolkits to engage with communities.

tools for voting

The ballot box is a key tool for climate action at every level of government.  Explore these tools for registering, finding polling places and learning about issues and candidates.

the latest climate science reports and resources

Find the latest reports and data to learn more about climate science and local impacts.

Chicago region earth day calendar

last updated: December 2018