Climate task force discusses public outreach, future steps

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Daily file photo by Sophia Bollag

A park in Evanston. A climate task force on Tuesday discussed how to help reach the public.

Samantha Handler, Assistant City Editor

One of three task forces from the Mayor’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan Working Group met Tuesday to discuss how to help structure outreach to the public and what information the group needs to move forward.

The group — made up of 16 voting members appointed by Mayor Steve Hagerty, divided into the outreach, adaptation and action task forces — aims to draft a Climate Action and Resilience Plan. Co-chair Joel Freeman told The Daily that the overall plan should address greenhouse gas emissions and help prepare an action plan to combat climate change.

“The task forces are taking different pieces of this plan because we’ve … got different parts of the brain that we’re using,” Freeman told The Daily. “Each of those task forces will bring what they think are the important issues and the important recommendations that the city should embark on as elements of the plan.”

Four members of the adaptation task force, which has been focused on acknowledging climate change in Evanston, Freeman said — met Tuesday to consider how to assist the outreach task force in structuring community engagement and discuss their own progress. They addressed ways residents can prepare and incorporate thoughts into an action plan.

Group members brainstormed their goals for the public meetings, which Freeman said will be held in either the spring or early summer.

Task force member Mariana Oliver, an urban planner and NU graduate student, said at the meeting that the outreach group should also try to engage undergraduate students, whom she has interacted with during her time as a teaching assistant.

She added that they should look into hosting some meetings on campus to incentivize students to attend.

“The undergrads are really into this stuff, and particularly really into climate change,” Oliver said. “They’re really passionate.”

The task force members also discussed what information they need from the city so they can take the next steps in forming a resilience plan.

Evanston resident and task force member Bob Dean said at the meeting that the current template they have of how climate change would affect Evanston is too simplistic. He added that it would be helpful to have certain statistics that would show certain isolations or vulnerabilities like the densities of senior population, where people are more transitory, and disabled populations.

Freeman said once it develops a plan, the task force will receive expertise from experts before sending a presentation to City Council. The group has until October 2018 to complete the plan and introduce it to council, according to the city’s website.

“We’ll try and get as many darts as possible before it gets finalized to City Council,” Freeman said.

Email: samanthahandler2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @sn_handler

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