Climate Action Starts Now - Go Evanston


On December 10, 2018, Evanston City Council unanimously adopted the Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP - you can see why Action comes before Resilience), which was written by a Mayor-appointed working group, including yours truly. The CARP plan was written to fulfill the City’s commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors. Evanston’s Plan sets ambitious goals, including becoming Carbon Neutral by 2050, moving to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and zero-waste by 2050. Enough jargon? Well, the point is that taking action to achieve these goals starts now and it needs to happen at all levels, from the individual level to the global level (and many in between.) 

Nationally, transportation accounts for about 30% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, but locally, partly because the impacts of air and sea travel are not accounted for, it accounts for about 17%, still a large chuck. So, how does the City plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector? Here are some of the strategies: 

Get better data. Our current transportation data relies on regional models (which don’t reliably show the fine-grain picture in Evanston), fuel sales (which assumes *only* Evanston residents purchase gas in Evanston and they purchase gas *only* in Evanston) and CTA rail emissions. There are many moving parts to the transportation system - measuring them better will help us know which investments are having the desired effect.  

Encourage more trips on foot, bicycle and transit by investing in these modes - improving connectivity, safety, convenience and comfort through continued implementation of the Bike Plan, the Multimodal Plan, enforcement of the Complete Streets Policy and other work being done by the City.

Teach bicycle and pedestrian safety in our schools. Give children the skills while increasing parents’ comfort level so that more children know how to navigate our streets on foot and on bicycle, while knowing the basic rules of the road, safety skills and etiquette. 

Make sure all new development supports car-free lifestyles. Evanston is in the lucky position to have real estate development interest and can leverage that interest with climate-friendly design requirements, such as walk- and bike-friendly design, direct connections to transit (rail and bus) stops, mixed-use on the lower-floors to foster live-work-shop environments, car-share and bike-share facilities on-site and other features that make walking, biking and transit the preferred option.

Electric vehicles are also part of the equation, especially if that includes our fleets, such as public buses and school buses. Achieving this goal will require strong partnerships with our transit agencies, schools and private sector transportation companies.

If you’d like to join Go Evanston and be a part of making this ambitious plan a reality, please consider joining the efforts of Citizens’ Greener Evanston and/or the Climate Reality Project, which is having a Northshore Kick-off Meeting this Thursday, February 7 at the Celtic Knot, 626 Church Street in downtown Evanston. 

-Posted by Vickie Jacobsen