Climate Action and Resilience Plan coordination meeting evaluates goals


Julia Richardson, Reporter

The City of Evanston Office of Sustainability held its second Climate Action and Resilience Plan coordination meeting Wednesday to address some of the many environmental factors pertaining to the plan’s implementation.

The plan, which City Council passed in late 2018, pushes for complete carbon neutrality by 2050. In the meeting, the office developed strategies to meet sustainability goals described in the plan.

“What we’re doing here tonight is starting to fill in some of the details as a next step in the CARP implementation,” said Jonathan Nieuwsma, a co-chair of the utilities commission. “We’re not going to get to the promised land tonight. This is the next step in a series of 1000 more steps.”

The event featured six different tables focusing on a spectrum of elements within the CARP plan. The topics discussed were urban green space; zero waste; health impacts of extreme heat; rebuilding efficiency; transportation and mobility; and outreach, education and behavior change. After an introduction from Nieuwsma and Kumar Jensen, the chief sustainability and resiliency officer, meeting attendees visited tables to contribute their suggestions and learn more about current initiatives

“(We’re) trying to build bridges and opportunity between organizations to help move this plan forward,” said Jensen.

One of the tables focused on building efficiency and renewable energy, where attendees discussed topics such as energy consumption and electric appliances. Citizens’ Climate Lobby member Laura Winston said she hopes to increase activism focused on raising carbon prices to combat global warming.

Winston said carbon dioxide fossil fuel emissions are already expensive, but because emissions are such a strong contributor to global warming, society should pay an even steeper price. She said higher prices will encourage consumers to convert to clean energy sources.

“If that were passed, it would greatly speed the transition to renewable energy and would really help to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” Winston said.

To draw attention to CCL’s plan on a national level, volunteers are dedicated to gaining more support on the municipal level, and then expand to partner with other cities, such as San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago.

“We would like to go to City Council, but we really need the support of the Evanston green community, as many voices as possible,” Winston said. “A city resolution costs nothing, but it could make an enormous impact.”

Another table focused on eliminating waste. It laid out potential improvements pertaining to single use plastics, universal recycling, food waste and disposable shopping bags. Conversations revolved around composting in schools, prohibiting restaurants from distributing plastic waste and prioritizing recycling.

“The disposable plastic shopping bag is probably the easiest for us to accomplish in the shortest term,” said Michelle Redfield, a member of a zero waste working group under the Evanston Environment Board. “Probably the one with the highest impact, but also the most controversial, is the universal recycling.”

Currently, Evanston only has a nine percent commercial property recycling diversion rate, and the idea of a universal recycling law has been on the rise. Jensen said he believes the law would not have much of an impact unless someone is hired to enforce it. He said without enforcement, Evanstonians may not take it seriously.

“People think we’re doing better than we are,” he said.

However, Jensen also said, “the city is ready for a variety of these waste policies.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Evanston’s recycling practices. Evanston has a nine percent commercial property recycling diversion rate. The Daily regrets the error.

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