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City commits to climate action, announces resident-led working group

The+Evanston+Ecology+Center%2C+2024+McCormick+Blvd.+City+officials+announced+climate+action+goals+and+a+new+working+group+at+the+Sustain+Evanston+Summit+on+Saturday.
The Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd. City officials announced climate action goals and a new working group at the Sustain Evanston Summit on Saturday.

The Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd. City officials announced climate action goals and a new working group at the Sustain Evanston Summit on Saturday.

Daily file photo by Sarah Gnolek

Daily file photo by Sarah Gnolek

The Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd. City officials announced climate action goals and a new working group at the Sustain Evanston Summit on Saturday.

Zoe Miller, Reporter

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City officials reaffirmed their commitment to Evanston’s climate action goals at Saturday’s Sustain Evanston Summit and announced a resident-led working group that will develop a new environmental plan.

Community members heard about targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement and about adapting Evanston’s infrastructure to deal with climate change.

The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan Working Group, which was created by Mayor Steve Hagerty and will have 15 members, will take the goals discussed at the summit and create a plan to achieve them.

“What we do here in Evanston is more important than ever given the way the federal government is retreating from an aggressive path in the fight against climate change,” Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said. “We here in Evanston have already made a big difference and we can continue to make a difference.”

Hagerty said Evanston hopes to reduce its emissions by 28 percent by 2025, starting from a 2000 baseline.

But Evanston is not starting from the ground up in reducing its emissions; Revelle said the city has already created two emissions reduction plans in the past.

In 2014, the city created the Evanston Livability Plan, which established a goal of reducing community-wide emissions 20 percent by the end of 2016. The plan built on progress made by the 2008 Evanston Climate Action Plan.

The previous plans, city officials said, helped Evanston make a 19 percent reduction in emissions since 2005, not accounting for emissions from the city’s waste. The reduction fell just short of the 20 percent target outlined in the 2014 livability plan.

“Evanston has really been an amazing leader in so many ways,” Revelle said. “Now we’re getting ready for a next climate action plan that is going to be bigger and better and more ambitious and it’s going to involve all of you.”

Kumar Jensen, the city’s sustainability coordinator, said the city is also working on plans to adapt its infrastructure in light of climate change. He told The Daily that Evanston needs to prepare for potential flooding, increases in the severity of precipitation, extreme heat and extreme cold.

He also said the city will need to find ways to deal with problems that may develop among Evanston’s plants and wildlife due to climate change. Solving this infrastructure challenge will be part of the working group’s task, Jensen said.

“We don’t have resilience or adaptation goals, but we’ll be able to develop them in this next planning process,” Jensen said.

Hagerty said more than 70 people applied for the citizen-led group and praised Evanston’s commitment to environmentalism. He added that he hoped to bring the names of people recommended for the group to City Council on Oct. 9.

“I know there are a lot of people in this community who are absolutely on board,” Hagerty said. “There’s a lot of ingenuity in this community.”

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately identified who said Evanston hopes to reduce emissions by 2025, and misstated the size of the sought reduction. Mayor Steve Hagerty made the remark, and he said the city hopes to reduce emissions by 28 percent. The Daily regrets the errors.

Email: zoemiller2020@u.northwestern.edu

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