Pawar releases environmental priorities for treasurer’s office

Sunrise Movement Chicago, group leading Green New Deal efforts, to stand with Pawar

CHICAGO (February 13, 2019)--Ameya Pawar, progressive candidate for city treasurer in the February election, released his environmental policy priorities on Wednesday, saying the office has a massive opportunity to invest in green energy and support a Green New Deal for Chicago. Pawar was joined by representatives from Sunrise Movement Chicago, a chapter of the national group leading the Green New Deal efforts in Washington.

As treasurer, Pawar said, he will:

Support the Green New Deal

Pawar pledged to make Chicago the municipal launching point of the Green New Deal championed by progressive Democrats in Congress like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and environmental organizations like the Sunrise Movement.

Pawar said he would convene labor movement organizations, environmental groups and community allies from across Chicago to develop strategies and plans for fundamental changes to the city’s infrastructure and economy to ensure a greener future that provides employment, opportunity and financial returns for all Chicagoans.

He said he will assemble and release a report within his first 100 days in office on a Green New Deal for Chicago. This report will analyze both the City’s investment portfolio and the pensions system’s fund roster. It will analyze how those investments can be enhanced to address the urgent concern of climate change, all while moving the City towards the creation of a fully green economy that provides jobs for all Chicagoans and actively improves the environmental health of the city, which will in turn benefit public health and investment returns.

“Across the globe, cities are standing up to make meaningful, systemic changes to stem the tide of climate change and the decline of our environment’s health,” said Pawar. “Chicago should be leading the way through responsible investments and a commitment to move to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.”

Focus on environmentally responsible investments

Pawar said he will seek to pass an ordinance, already introduced by Ald. John Arena (45) in concert with current Treasurer Kurt Summers, to require that the City adhere to ESG investment practices. ESG investing refers to the practice of considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, in addition to traditional financial principles when making investment decisions.

ESG factors include such concerns as labor standards and practices, business ethics and diversity as well as environmental impacts like greenhouse gas emissions, dependence on fossil fuel investments and more. Many cities have adopted ESG standards, recognizing that their role in the marketplace is not only ethically and environmentally responsible, but also profitable.

“We know that the future of the energy sector is in the green economy. But investing in clean energy isn’t just a good investment strategy--it’s also the right thing to do for the health and safety of our communities,” said Pawar. “ESG standards give us the chance to improve the environmental health of our city, diversify our portfolio, and provide more ample financial returns for all Chicagoans.”

Focus Infrastructure Trust on Green Projects and Job Training

Pawar said he would use treasurer’s position as an advisor to the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) to focus the infrastructure program on green technology and infrastructure as well job training for the green energy economy.

“By focusing programming on green infrastructure and employment opportunity, we can provide returns for working Chicagoans while also improving public health and making necessary changes to our infrastructure to ensure an environmentally viable Chicago,” said Pawar.

Pawar cited the example of the Chicago Solar Ground Mount Program, which seeks to promote clean energy and test the viability of solar grids in Chicago to benefit all Chicagoans. The program was announced in October of 2018, but it lacks an essential element for clean energy success in Chicago: job training.

“As treasurer, I’ll work with the environmental movement, including organizations representing front line communities, and the state to drive resources toward the green energy economy and job training in partnership both with my office and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust,” said Pawar.

Reject Fossil Fuel Industry Campaign Donations

Pawar pledged never to accept political contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

“As a trusted watchdog for the City's bank accounts and investment portfolios, the treasurer must always avoid conflicts of interest. That is why I’ll never accept a dollar from the fossil fuel industry, which has knowingly put our environment and our communities in grave danger for generations,” said Pawar. “As treasurer, I’ll be focused on building an economy that is healthy for everyone--not one that supports this plunder by the fossil fuel industry.”

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