You know the calendar year, and you’ve probably heard of the fiscal year.

Now, Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says we should call the period from late April to late April the Eco-year, as in Ecology, to bring more attention to Evanston’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP).

That attention comes Monday, when Cara Pratt, the city’s Sustainability Coordinator, will present the CARP Action Agenda to City Council, a series of projects to implement, or at least started on, this year.

Some CARP goals are for the municipal government, others are for the community as a whole.

Nieuwsma, who made climate change activism a major part of his council campaign in 2021, says this year’s presentation will have “concrete actions, and not just spiritual tree-hugging.”

CARP, approved by City Council in 2018, calls for zero waste and for carbon neutrality by 2050, and 100% renewable energy usage in Evanston by 2030.

Nieuwsma says “we as a community have made aggressive steps” towards reducing greenhouse gases, with a 38% reduction in CO2 emissions already.

But he says the work is going to get harder and more expensive to meet CARP goals, adding, “The low-hanging fruit has already been picked.”

Plus, Niuewsma says, it’s critical to keep equity in mind, so any costs of reducing emissions or waste are borne fairly by residents.

Among the concrete actions Nieuwsma hopes to see this Eco-year is putting up more solar panels on city buildings.

He’s optimistic that such panels can go up on the Robert Crown Center, working with a third party to finance the work. The third party would then sell the generated electricity to the city at a discount.

Nieuwsma also says Evanston will begin community outreach on the possibility of phasing out natural gas usage in new construction, something he says close to 100 communities are doing nationwide.

“If a new building is going in,” Nieuwsma notes, “now would be the time to have a zero carbon footprint.”

He stresses, however, that this is just in the conceptual phase right now, and there will be “a lot of public engagement” before any decisions are made, particularly if going all-electric adds costs in the short run, while potentially saving money in the long run.

City Council gets a CARP update during its second meeting in April, which is why Nieuwsma wants to start the Eco-year calendar then. Plus, it’s just about the same time as Earth Day, the worldwide recognition of the need for environmental activism, which occurs annually on April 22.

(There has been and would also be an October mid-year progress report).

Despite Evanston’s involvement with climate change issues and recycling, Nieuwsma says that “Evanston is not an island,” and that state and federal actions” are needed.

But at least, he says, Evanston can do its part and set an example for others.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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