On November 10,2008, Evanston’s City Council adopted the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP). Created through a unique year-long collaboration between the City of Evanston and community volunteers, the plan outlines more than 200 strategies for reducing Evanston’s greenhouse gas emissions. This plan will serve as a guide to meeting its community greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 13% by the year 2012.

Evanston’s focus on climate change began in October 2006, when the City Council voted to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Under the agreement, Evanston committed to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol target of seven percent reduction in 1990 gas emissions by 2012. Evanston formed a collaborative partnership with the Network for Evanston’s Future, a
local grass-roots sustainability coalition, to develop the ECAP. Nine task forces were established, each with one City and two community co-chairs. Additionally the task forces included representation from most City departments, local businesses, non-profit organizations, congregations, affordable housing advocates, environmental enthusiasts and Northwestern University.

The resulting plan organizes the 219 strategies into nine focus areas. These focus areas are: Transportation & Land Use, Energy Efficiency & Buildings, Renewable Energy Resources, Waste Reduction & Recycling, Forestry, Prairie & Carbon Offsets, Food Production & Distribution, Policy & Research, Education & Engagement and Communication & Public Relations. Each focus area includes several umbrella strategies, as well as more specific goals to be implemented by the city and community. The strategies outline action steps but do not detail methods for implementation in order to allow for future flexibility. Also, heavy emphasis was placed on identifying strategies that leveraged existing programs, initiatives and resources to ensure that implementation would be possible in the absence of funding.

Similar to most communities across the country, Evanston faced declining revenue and subsequent budget shortfalls in 2008-2009. Aside from a dedicated full-time staff, the City’s Sustainable Programs Coordinator, the City did not have the resources available to allocate a budget for the development of the climate action plan or to implement major strategies. Faced with limited resources, Evanston got creative and turned to the community to develop and enact a viable plan for reducing emissions.

In the first year of the program, from November 2008 to November 2009, the City prioritized and focused on strategies that already had allocated resources or that had potential grant possibilities. The City entered the first year of the program not expecting a significant reduction in green house emissions, but it was dedicated to carrying out as many strategies and goals as possible to improve the environmental and sustainability standards of Evanston. This report does not include all of the City’s efforts, but rather highlights the major actions taken place in the twelve months following the creation of the Evanston Climate Action Plan.

Read the entire Evanston Climate Action Plan Annual Report here>>>