Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss sent the following message in a Friday, April 29, email newsletter:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released their third part of the Sixth Assessment Report, declaring this a “now or never” moment if we are serious about avoiding the truly catastrophic consequences of climate change. That means that everybody needs to act with urgency – individuals, organizations and governments, from the largest countries down to towns like ours.
That’s why on Monday evening, the Evanston City Council passed a resolution declaring a climate emergency. After all, this situation is an emergency and it’s important for us to be direct about that.
But let’s be honest: an emergency declaration alone is worthless unless it’s backed up by concrete action. And the City Council voted to take action Monday night, too.
Evanston has long had a Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP), most recently updated in 2018. CARP sets out a number of ambitious goals related to carbon emissions, waste and more. These goals have motivated a number of actions that have led to real progress, including utilizing 100 percent renewable energy for municipal operations, the expansion of renewable energy used in non-municipal Evanston buildings and more.
But while this progress is encouraging, we’re not on track to meet all the goals yet, and the next steps will likely be even more difficult than what’s already been accomplished. That’s why Council voted to commit to a series of actions related to climate change. This list, which includes dozens of steps on items ranging from fleet electrification to building efficiency to textile recycling and more, can sound kind of dry when you read it. But that’s almost the point: the “now or never” work we have to do isn’t one simple, grandiose moment – instead, it’s step after technical step, eventually leading to a cleaner, more equitable, safer future.
Monday night’s progress wouldn’t have happened without City staff across all departments, or the many activists who pushed and advocated to make it come to pass. Our staff did this work in partnership with Cara Pratt, the City’s remarkable sustainability coordinator, who somehow directs all this effort as a one-person operation. I’m extremely grateful to Cara, our whole internal team, and our many external partners who have collectively brought us to this moment.
Council has committed to this work, and must live up to that commitment repeatedly over the course of the coming years. But we also need even more partnership than we already have. I hope you’ll consider raising your voice as part of a citywide chorus demanding ambitious, aggressive climate action.
I know that “now or never” can sound daunting, but that’s only if you ignore the first half of the phrase. Yes, “never” should alarm, and perhaps even frighten us. But “now” is an exciting reminder of all the good we can do when we interpret this call to action with the urgency it demands of us.
Thank you for all you do to better our community.
Mayor, City of Evanston