Pritzker, top aides headed to UK on climate mission

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker gets a COVID-19 booster shot on Tuesday.


SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and an entourage of top state officials planned to depart for the United Kingdom Tuesday on a weeklong hunt for climate-friendly investment and to tout Illinois’ new clean-energy law at the global climate change summit in Scotland.

Pritzker’s group will start in London, spending three days meeting with government and industry leaders to encourage expansion in Illinois’ “green-energy” economy, particularly a burgeoning electric-vehicle industry, spokeswoman Emily Bittner said. She did not identify any of the British participants.

The group will continue on to the Scottish city of Glasgow on Friday for the COP26 climate summit, where Bittner said the Democratic governor will deliver a speech at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions on Nov. 7.

“Illinois is leading the Midwest on climate action and building a green energy economy and I am eager to tout our success abroad,” Pritzker said in a statement last week announcing the trip. “Our historic clean energy legislation, talented workforce, and role as a transportation hub for the nation makes our state a top destination for international companies looking to do business in the U.S.”

The Clean Energy Jobs Act, which Pritzker signed into law Sept. 15, pledges to make Illinois carbon free by 2045. It provides a $700 million subsidy to two unprofitable nuclear plants to keep them operating, closes coal-fired power plants by 2045, provides rebates for purchases of electric cars and more.

Accompanying the governor will be his chief of staff Anne Caprara, deputy governors Andy Manar and Christian Mitchell, first assistant deputy governor Christy George and deputy policy director Jessica Himes.

Five other governors — all Democrats — have announced plans to attend: Jay Inslee of Washington, New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, Hawaii’s David Ige, Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards and Oregon’s Kate Brown. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that family obligations will keep him home, but his lieutenant governor will attend.

Maryland and Massachusetts, states led by Republican governors, will also send representatives.

Bittner said Pritzker is paying his own expenses. Airfare for staff members will be paid by Intersect Illinois, a business ambassador group financed by Illinois corporations to spur new development. Staff members’ lodging will come from the state budget. Bittner did not estimate total budget costs.

Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch will join the group in London on Wednesday and pay his own expenses, spokeswoman Jaclyn Driscoll said. He will not go to Glasgow, returning to the U.S. on Saturday.

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November 2, 2021 at 05:27PM

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