Evanston Township High School students Sarika Waikar, Mia Houseworth, Jacob Brodsky, and Lily Aaron recently created a “Youth Pledge” to call attention to Evanston’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), which was adopted by the City Council in 2018.

As described on the City of Evanston website, CARP includes a community carbon neutrality goal, a zero-waste goal and a 100% renewable energy goal.

The students call themselves EYEA (Evanston Youth for Environmental Activism).  According to Northwestern student Tony Inhorn, who has been supporting the students’ work as a representative of the Democratic Party of Evanston’s Climate Action Team, the students hope that the pledge will encourage candidates for office to commit to following through on the CARP commitments.

Students have sent the pledge to all of the candidates for office in the upcoming elections and have obtained nine signatures on the pledge so far.

Sarika, Mia Houseworth, Jacob, and Lily Aaron said the Youth Pledge “is intended to highlight some of the most important aspects within the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, while also stressing the intersectionality of climate action and justice.

“We wanted to illustrate that while the creation of CARP is something to be applauded, the City of Evanston must go above and beyond its commitments to ensure true climate justice.

“The previous administration was not as ambitious as we hoped, so we wanted to hold Evanston accountable and make sure the next mayor/aldermen prioritize these guidelines to promote Evanston as a leader in environmental efforts.

“After various interviews with Evanston climate experts, we sent out a Google form to candidates with the pledge attached.

“We are also reaching out to youth organizations and individuals within ETHS and the community to demonstrate the desire of Evanston youth to see true environmental change. We have received substantial support, including signatures from the three mayoral candidates and several clerk and aldermen candidates. We will continue to collect youth and candidate signatories going into the April elections and welcome community involvement in our efforts.”

The pledge challenges the current candidates for City offices in this manner:

Potential leaders of Evanston:

“We, the youth of Evanston, urge not only the implementation of the Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP), but to go beyond its bounds.

“While Evanston has begun to take the steps necessary towards environmental action, we must understand that there is much work to be done. The City of Evanston cannot hide behind the progressiveness of CARP as a whole. While CARP’s timeline is reachable with bold action, we must push beyond and commit to more ambitious goals.

“In addition, we must understand that CARP isn’t something to simply be adopted, we cannot let the plan for our very survival be sidelined. We must stress the need for officials to take meaningful action to address environmental injustice, and to recognize the intersectionality of climate action and equity; breathing it into every action we take.

“Therefore, we call for candidates to commit to the following actions:

● Create a CARP implementation strategy

○ Supporting a long term financing and funding strategy for implementing CARP

● Commit to environmental justice efforts

   ○ Support and implement the Environmental Justice Resolution as an ordinance ○ Reduce food insecurity through urban agriculture and other programs

● Zero waste initiative

○ Equitable access law to composting & recycling

        ○ Revise the plastic bag ban in a way that creates a pathway to eliminate all single-use shopping bags within a few years

 ○ Ensure reusable bags are widely accessible ○ Commit to the diversion of food waste from landfills

○ Phase-out single-use serving utensils and containers, with assistance to small or low-income restaurants

● Hire a Sustainability Coordinator for all Evanston schools

○ Implement climate curriculum in all Evanston schools

● Community Outreach Program: Create a clear community engagement strategy, emphasizing accessibility to marginalized Evanston residents

○ Neighbors to Neighbors Program

○ Create a survey in collaboration with community members in an effort to center/specify the environmental needs of Evanston residents

● Improve conservation efforts ○ Explore incorporating planting solutions, as well as hardscape, to combat beach erosion, learning from other communities

○ Prioritize green infrastructure projects to reduce flooding where possible, rather ○ than hardscape solutions

● Renewable Energy

○ City council commit to enacting long term commitments to renewable energy

○ Make solar panels accessible to all Evanston schools

● Target buildings for greenhouse gas emissions. They are the largest contributors.

○ Net-zero energy commitment from city buildings

○ Revise building/energy codes to get to electrification

○ Educate building owners/community on the need for electrification

○ Target large industrial/commercial buildings

● Ensure that companies doing business in Evanston understand and support these goals and CARP.

 “We hope that you will recognize the necessity of these actions and will take the steps to make Evanston a leader in climate justice. Evanston youth will continue to demand action, regardless of the measure.”

Ellen Galland

Ellen Galland has had an architectural practice in Evanston since 1983. For more than 20 years, she has written articles for the RoundTable, including the column “Ask An Architect" and "The Green Column"...