Approval of sustainability plan delayed pending final revisions

Northwestern%E2%80%99s+campus+in+Evanston.+Members+of+the+Mayor%E2%80%99s+Climate+Action+Resilience+Plan+Working+Group+on+Tuesday+delayed+a+vote+on+their+climate+action+plan.

Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Northwestern’s campus in Evanston. Members of the Mayor’s Climate Action Resilience Plan Working Group on Tuesday delayed a vote on their climate action plan.

Alex Wong, Reporter

The Mayor’s Climate Action Resilience Plan Working Group on Tuesday delayed a vote to approve its sustainability plan because final revisions have yet to be completed.

Members delayed the vote until Nov. 13 in order to have more time to review public comments submitted in September about the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which they began reviewing Oct. 2, co-chair Lauren Marquez-Viso said.

“I was hesitant to rush things just because I know this is so important,” Marquez-Viso said at the meeting. “I really think data is important, and we need to look at the numbers and understand the figures. We also need to make sure we’re communicating a cohesive story to the community and make sure it’s been refined as much as possible.”

The group aims to have a final product that is more accessible and clearer for the public, member Jerri Garl said. She added that they will respond to every public comment submitted in a separate document that will be provided in addition to the finalized plan.

The plan has two components: climate action and resiliency.

Outlined within are 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. To meet those goals, the plan suggests methods like waste reduction and renewable energy development.

Members discussed the ambiguity of 2050 goals for specific parts of the plan, like the aim to reduce building energy consumption by an undetermined amount. Members were wary of setting arbitrary numbers for those 2050 goals, Marquez-Viso said, because they will inevitably have to be adapted.

Kumar Jensen, Evanston’s sustainability coordinator, floated the option to remove all targets for specific goals and focus on accurate measurements of progress.

“So much is going to change between now and 2050,” Jensen said. “It might be more useful to just make sure we’re measuring and evaluating progress effectively than saying exactly what the reduction is going to be for that time.”

The group has also added a glossary of terms and a personalized “My Climate Action Plan” for individual use.

The finalized plan will be sent to the Human Services Committee for approval in December or January and will reach City Council for a vote at the following meeting, Jensen said.

Because of the city’s projected $7.4 million deficit in the 2019 budget, group members are uncertain the plan will be approved by the city. They want to emphasize to the cost of inaction in the face of climate change, Garl said.

“I really hope City Council will support it and understand the cost avoidance in implementing this plan,” Garl said. “We will be paying for the costs of climate change, and this plan an attempt to help fight against that.”

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Twitter: @alexalwwong

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