Planning for a carbon-free future 

ON TO 2050 sets an ambitious goal of creating a region prepared for climate change. This is a global problem that requires extraordinary effort, but we know the importance of regional collaboration when it comes to tackling large-scale issues. We must cut emissions drastically to protect communities in our region and around the world. Northeastern Illinois continues to experience devastation from flooding and health hazards from extreme heat. This highlights the importance of both reducing the emission of the greenhouse gasses that drive climate change, and improving our resilience to impacts we cannot avoid.

The region has made progress in recent years, decreasing emissions by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2019, but we still have a long way to go. To help mitigate climate change, the region’s long-range plan, ON TO 2050, recommends important steps like improving energy efficiency and encouraging compact development and the use of low- and no-carbon transportation alternatives, such as walking, biking, and transit.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and its partners currently are developing a regional climate action plan, which will be one of several successor plans to ON TO 2050. Join us as we chart a path forward toward a thriving future.

Taking climate action

In 2023, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, in partnership with CMAP and the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, received climate action planning funds through U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program. Together, we are leading climate action planning not just for CMAP’s seven-county region, but for the entire Chicago metropolitan statistical area (MSA). The Chicago MSA covers 9 counties in northeastern Illinois, 4 counties in Indiana, and 1 county in Wisconsin.

As a first step, the Mayors Caucus created a Priority Climate Action Plan for the MSA. The Priority Climate Action Plan outlines priority emission reduction strategies and will better position communities to compete for federal investments. The plan supports equitable investment in policies, practices, and technologies that reduce emissions, create high-quality jobs, spur economic growth, and increase quality of life.

A regional climate action plan

CMAP is building on this work by leading the creation of a climate action plan covering the three-state metropolitan statistical area. The plan will chart a path for the MSA to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This means cutting greenhouse gas emissions released by human activities to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining greenhouse emissions balanced out by removal. To do so, the plan must account for every emissions sector — including transportation, buildings, industry, energy, waste, water, and agriculture — as well as carbon sinks.

The plan development process will center the experience and expertise of the people most affected by climate change and climate action strategies. This will be done through a series of in-person and online workshops, discussions, and other engagements with residents, businesses, and community-based organizations in impacted communities throughout the region. Guided by a steering committee, CMAP also will convene several working groups to engage organizations and individuals with topical expertise during the plan development process. The 18-month project formally began in January 2024 and will finish in summer 2025.

Create your community’s climate action plan

Each of northeastern Illinois’ 7 counties and 284 municipalities has a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but not everyone knows where to begin. During this CMAP Talks webinar, panelists discussed how your community can take climate action and resources you can use.

CMAP has also developed resources for communities interested in developing sustainability plans. The Sustainability Planning White Paper provides a step-by-step overview, while the accompanying Sustainability Indicators Guide provides a blueprint for selecting sustainability indicators and measuring progress on goals over time.

Highway overpass

Understanding our region’s emissions

CMAP’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory found that emissions decreased by 9 percent between 2010 and 2019 — an average of 1 percent each year. To meet CMAP’s goal, the region needs to increase the rate of reduction to 5 percent annually through 2050.

To help communities reduce emissions and track progress toward long-term goals, CMAP created local emissions summaries for each of the region’s 7 counties, 284 municipalities, and 77 Chicago neighborhoods. The summaries provide a snapshot of emissions from the building, transportation, and waste sectors.

Transit is PART of the solution

Public transit is critical to northeastern Illinois’ response to climate change. Transportation emissions in our region are growing, and the vast majority of these emissions come from car and truck travel. Transit accounted for 7 percent of trips in 2019, but was responsible for just 2 percent of transportation emissions.

Transit also enables more environmentally sustainable land use and development patterns, including the kinds of compact and walkable communities that ON TO 2050 prioritizes. Communities with these characteristics have lower average transportation emissions.

Transit must be part of the region’s solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Without transit, the region will fail to meet its emission reduction goals and will exacerbate a rapidly changing climate. Learn more in the Plan of Action for Regional Transit (PART).

Support climate mitigation in your community

There are many things you can do to support climate action in your community. Sign up for CMAP’s climate newsletter to hear about funding opportunities for planning and implementation projects.

Logandale Middle School


The Building Energy Resource hosts energy efficiency resources for building professionals of all levels. It includes educational resources, tools, and more to help people comply with codes, find funding, and make the right changes for their buildings.

Electric car at a charging station in a parking lot

Electric vehicles

The EV Readiness Program helps local governments prepare to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles and their charging infrastructure. The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus works with a cohort of communities to support safe and effective plans for regional transportation electrification. In addition to developing local plans and policies, the program also helps position communities for funding opportunities.

Home with solar panels on the roof


SolSmart is a technical assistance program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, that supports local governments looking to increase access affordable and renewable solar energy in their communities.

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus also offers resources for municipalities interested in solar energy through its Community Solar Clearinghouse Solutions Residential Program, through which local governments can offer fair and transparent subscription terms to their communities.

Divvy electric bike rental stand


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and Climate and Equitable Jobs Act have provided an unprecedented amount of state and federal funding for clean technologies.

CMAP also awards federal funding to projects that reduce reliance on cars and greenhouse gas emissions. The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funds projects that improve air quality and reduce roadway congestion, the Carbon Reduction Program focuses on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and the Transportation Alternatives Program funds non-motorized transportation projects, focusing on those that are part of the Regional Greenways and Trails Plan.