DPOE climate group aims to unify different environmental efforts in Evanston

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Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

The Northwestern Lakefill. Evanston’s Climate Action Team is looking to unify city environmental efforts at an upcoming meeting.

Emma Yarger, Reporter

The Democratic Party of Evanston’s Climate Action Team is seeking to unify local climate action efforts at Tuesday’s City-School Liaison Committee meeting.

At their Sunday meeting, DPOE Climate Action Team Chairman Bob Heuer, volunteer Neal Weingarden and Evanston Township High School District 202 sophomore Ethan Schaefer discussed strategies to unify climate action efforts. Heuer said the City-School Liaison Committee can be the platform that centralizes a “hodgepodge” of efforts to implement the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan.

In December 2018, Evanston City Council approved CARP, a series of strategies for the city to combat climate change in multiple categories including waste, buildings and municipal operations.

“We can engage youth through municipal level action around climate,” Heuer said. “Really work at the local level where you can have the biggest impact.”

Heuer said he hopes to engage various groups to work toward this objective, including the Evanston Environmental Board, as well as community organizations such as Citizens’ Greener Evanston, Indivisible Evanston, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Group of Evanston and the ETHS Climate Action Team.

In addition to recruiting the City-School Liaison Committee to help coordinate the teams, Heuer plans to propose a task force of representatives from local groups to present to the committee at the upcoming meeting in January.

The team has focused on including Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and ETHS through the liaison committee. Schafer said teachers at ETHS have worked individually toward discussing climate change in their lessons. However, he said there needs to be a more holistic effort in order to best implement climate change education at his school.

“Education for the youth is very key,” Schafer said, “because they’ll be more inspired to do things that will lead to productive green ideas and energy.”

The rest of the meeting included a brainstorming session about how to move forward with further action. The group considered ideas such as caring for trees around the DPOE office space on Church Street and planning tours of Evanston’s water facilities.

“It might inspire other things like a beach cleanup day,” Weingarden said. “Things that protect our waterways I think might be kind of an interesting tie-in to the Earth day or our day of action.”

While the group has planned local initiatives to get people excited about sustainability, Weingarden said it’s also important to connect with politicians.

With city-wide goals to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050, Weingarden said he hopes to connect grassroots efforts with local lawmakers.

“We have a base,” Weingarden said. “We have the ear of the progressives in Evanston. We have the ears of the politicians as well.”

Instead of expecting the city to do the work, Heuer said the team’s goal is to raise awareness in a nonpartisan way while organizing local groups.

“We can’t be waiting on the state and the feds,” Heuer said.

At its next meeting on Tuesday, the City-School Liaison Committee will discuss the Safe Routes to School Grant, the intergovernmental agreement between the city and school districts regarding homeless students, as well as sustainability program updates.

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Twitter: @emmayarger

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