Council agrees to 20 percent emissions reduction by 2016

Sophia Bollag, City Editor

Evanston aldermen approved a plan to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2016 at their meeting Monday night.

The agreement comes in part as a result of the city achieving its first climate action plan goal, to, by 2012, reduce emissions by 13 percent from 2005 levels. That agreement was approved in 2008.

The new goal, which sustainable programs coordinator Catherine Hurley called “bold, but achievable,” would reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2016 from 2005 levels and is part of a new so-called Evanston Livability Plan.

During a presentation to the council on Monday, Hurley cited several sustainability efforts in Evanston that helped the city achieve the 13 percent reduction goal, including creating an office of sustainability.

Hurley highlighted the city’s 100 percent renewable energy contract with Verde Energy USA, which she said had the biggest impact on Evanston’s reduction in emissions.

 (Evanston’s new renewable energy contract part of a statewide trend)

Evanston approved a contract earlier this month with a new energy supplier that will allow residents to purchase 100 percent renewable energy. The new three-year contract with Homefield Energy will replace the city’s existing contract with Verde Energy USA, which expires in August.

“Evanston has really built a strong culture and infrastructure around green transportation and lower emission forms of transportation,” Hurley said. “Evanston is truly a place where you can get around town without having a car.”

Hurley’s comments come at the same time the city is soliciting public input on the latest draft of a citywide bike plan that would add features to make bike travel safer on some streets and prohibit it on others.

(Residents weigh in on preliminary bike plan)

Ald. Jane Grover (7th) asked that there be a study done on school-related travel. She said she believed many students at elementary and middle schools in the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and at Evanston Township High School currently drive to school but could be persuaded to walk or bike.

“Some low-hanging fruit would seem to be school-related travel. I think that school-related traffic accounts for not only a lot of carbon consumption, but traffic as well,” Grover said. “We have the infrastructure. We just don’t seem to have the culture, yet.”

The council approved the Livability Plan 9-0.

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Twitter: @SophiaBollag