Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th Ward) talks with residents Carolyn Simon (left) and Abby Kisicki after the ward meeting on Wednesday, April 19. Credit: Evan Girard

Evanston may be on track to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, but the city could face some hard choices to get there.

Several members of Evanston organizations focused on climate issues made presentations to about 25 people at a Wednesday, April 19, Fourth Ward meeting led by Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma.

Evanston residents Tina Paden (left) and Catherine Cotter speak with Evanston Sustainability and Resilience Manager Cara Pratt at the end of the Fourth Ward meeting Wednesday. Credit: Evan Girard

Evanston Sustainability and Resilience Manager Cara Pratt spoke about Evanston’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which was approved by the City Council in 2018.

Pratt said Evanston has reduced its emissions by about 38% since 2005, which is progress toward its goal to hit 50% reduction by 2025, 80% reduction by 2035, and achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2050.

“I would say, generally, we’ve been on track to reduce our carbon footprint associated with our goals, with the big caveat that most of those reductions are attributed to our purchase of renewable energy credits,” Pratt said at the meeting. “While it looks like we’re on track, we have a lot of very difficult decisions and investments to make over the next 25 years to get to where we need to be.”

Climate programs

Pratt also said the city is relaunching Sustain Evanston, a grant program initially approved in late 2018 that will provide local businesses and nonprofits with grants up to $25,000 so they can invest in energy efficiency and other decarbonization projects.

Former Climate Action Evanston board member Hal Sprague explained community solar to meeting attendees. Credit: Evan Girard

The new version of the program will launch Saturday, April 22, to coincide with Earth Day, as part of Evanston’s 2023 agenda to implement its climate action plan. Other items on this year’s agenda include installing more electric vehicle charging stations around Evanston and adding an equity, diversity and inclusion fellow over the summer.

After Pratt concluded, Climate Action Evanston member Jerry Herst, Evanston’s Environment Board Chair Wendy Pollock, and Evanston Repair Café volunteer Peter DeJong spoke about their respective organizations. Additionally, Hal Sprague, formerly a board member at Climate Action Evanston, spoke about community solar panel subscriptions, which are intended to save subscribers money overall by granting them credits on their electricity bills.

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  1. I wonder if the city will still be on track if NU is allowed to build an entertainment complex and have trucks & construction equipment idling on their property, which NU is requesting.