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“Evanston’s carbon footprint is down by almost 20% since 2005,” Citizens for Greener Evanston (CGE) President Jonathan Nieuwsma told the crowd of 50 senior
citizens an a recent evening. Applause at The Mather Evanston filled the room.

What the residents were cheering about became clearer by the end of the night. So did the ecological challenges facing the planet.

The occasion was the launch of a new CGE community outreach initiative presenting a National Geographic documentary on climate change. “Before the Flood” is narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio. He travels the globe as a United Nations Messenger of Peace to meet scientists, activists, and world leaders. All share perspectives on the dangers and possible solutions.

CGE will host additional screenings of “Before the Flood” from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Ave., and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 22 at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

Mr. DiCaprio’s engaging call to action also puts meaning into CGE’s goal to “Act Locally and Breathe Globally.”  Mr. Nieuwsma says the film’s global context underscores the importance of the City of Evanston’s multiple efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“For the low price of an email address, you can become a member of CGE,” Mr. Nieuwsma told the gathering at the Mather. The non-profit organization includes more than 1,800 members.

CGE was established in 2008 to support implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan. CGE played a lead role in securing voter approval of a 2012 “Community Choice Aggregation” referendum which led the City Council to contract for 100% renewable electricity. This aggregation program enables participating residents and small businesses to shift to green power.  Since 2013, the City has been meeting its emissions-reduction goals.

This August, the City began a new three-year contract extension with Dynegy Energy Services. Customers are automatically enrolled in the renewable energy program unless they opt out.

Rates are eventually expected to become lower than ComEd’s, Mr. Nieuwsma says.  “It’s really a no-brainer – save money and save the planet.”

CGE’s Before the Flood outreach initiative is led by community activist Tina Hristova. She told Mather residents: “This documentary continually amazes and inspires and motivates me to want to share it with the rest of the community.”