Evanston climate change action group takes first step in setting new climate goals


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

A tree near The Rock on Northwestern’s campus. The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan Working Group aims to plan and carry out Evanston’s third climate change initiative.

Amy Li, Reporter

Evanston’s resident-led climate change action group held its second meeting Tuesday to review inventories from past initiatives as the first step toward devising a framework for future carbon emission reduction plans.

Mayor Steve Hagerty formed the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan Working Group, composed of 16 Evanston residents, in September. The group aims to plan and carry out Evanston’s third climate change initiative, following the 2012 Evanston Climate Action Plan and the 2016 Livability Plan.

Members hope to emulate past successes in lowering greenhouse gas emissions by enacting more infrastructure and policy changes in Evanston, said Kumar Jensen, the city’s sustainability coordinator.

Jensen presented a data inventory from the past two initiatives and discussed its implications for the future.

“(The inventory) provides strategic information that we can use to move forward,” Jensen said, “For example, we can go ahead and talk to Northwestern and say, what are your plans for the next 10 years?”

The 2012 Evanston Climate Action Plan reduced citywide carbon emissions by 13 percent, reaching its goal, according to the inventory. The 2016 Livability Plan did not meet its goal of 20 percent, reaching only about 18.8 percent.

“We fell just a bit shy of (the goal) but we’re still doing well,” Jensen said. “And if we look back, we have been performing better than what our goals were.”

Some members voiced their concerns over the report’s lack of account for the city’s waste emissions, which were not included in the reduction figures.

Jensen said though municipal waste was not represented in the inventory, the city hopes the group will consider other metrics and factor waste emissions into later plans for carbon emission reduction.

Still, members said more effort can be made in improving Evanston’s climate situation.

“We are in an environment where we have the opportunity to be more ambitious and to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” member Lauren Marquez-Viso said. “Where many communities around us are failing to even meet the baseline, perhaps we should take that opportunity to push ourselves further.”

For the next step, member Lonnie Wilson proposed adopting reduction strategies that have proven to be effective from cities that have exemplary emission levels in Evanston’s future environmental plans.

With families in Evanston, group members say they have greater incentives to making Evanston as clean as possible.

“Since we’re talking about our children here, shouldn’t we err on excellence?” Wilson said. “My kids are important to me, and I want them to live.”

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