Group members revise sustainability plan after receiving community feedback


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Evanston sustainability coordinator Kumar Jensen speaks at an Evanston Climate Action and Resilience Plan Working Group meeting in April. The group is set to finalize its plan Oct. 9.

Alex Wong, Reporter

Following a review of public concerns at a Tuesday meeting, the Mayor’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan Working Group is set to approve its sustainability plan on Oct. 9.

The Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which has been under development since September 2017, will be approved pending revisions by group members. The group accepted comment submissions from Sept. 4 through Sept. 28 in an online form and at engagement events.

The plan is centered on two main components: climate action and resiliency. It outlines city-wide greenhouse gas reduction targets, which set out to achieve carbon neutrality in Evanston by 2050, with a 50 percent reduction goal for 2025 and an 80 percent goal for 2035. These benchmarks are designed to make the city more resilient to the effects of climate change.

“We got very thoughtful comments from the public on all topics, including some important changes in language and explaining our terminology because there’s a lot of jargon surrounding climate action,” said group member Vickie Jacobsen.

In their comments, many residents praised the plan for taking significant steps to combat climate change, which include achieving a 100 percent renewable electricity supply for all of Evanston and increasing the community-wide waste diversion rate by 75 percent by 2035, among others.

In response to residents’ concerns, the group will also add a list of tangible actions people can take to reduce their environmental impact and a glossary of relevant terms to the plan.

The city is currently facing a $7.5 million budget deficit — due to a combination of a general fund shortfall and increased expenditures — and is set to release a draft budget proposal on Oct. 5. Group members raised concerns that council members would not pass their plan due to the deficit.

But co-chair Lauren Marquez-Viso said “inaction may be more expensive” than the plan due to the eventual cost of climate change.

“Money is a little tricky to get our hands on,” said co-chair Joel Freeman. “But I’m confident City Council will get a compelling argument from the community to pass this plan.”

Because CARP only operates in an advisory capacity, some concerns can only be addressed by city staff and relevant boards following the plan’s passage, said Kumar Jensen, Evanston’s sustainability coordinator. Other comments had already been addressed by the draft plan.

The finalized plan will be sent to the Human Services Committee for approval at its Nov. 5 meeting. The plan would then reach City Council for a vote on Nov. 12, Jensen said.

The photo caption on this article was updated to reflect that the photo was taken at a previous CARP meeting. 

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