Evanston aldermen this week adopted a climate plan that calls for reducing local greenhouse gas emissions in the next seven years by even more than the reductions achieved over the past 12 years.

And nearly half of the reduction achieved so far has come from purchasing renewable energy credits.

While the energy credits, also known as renewable energy certificates, provide a modest incentive to encourage creation of more renewable energy sources at very small cost to energy consumers, they don’t actually reduce our local carbon emissions.

Here’s how the Climate Action and Resilience Plan breaks down the sources of Evanston greenhouse gas emissions as of last year:

  • Electricity — 44 percent
  • Natural gas — 36 percent
  • Transportation and mobility — 17 percent
  • Waste disposal — 2 percent
  • Municipal operations — 1 percent.

Compared to 2005 levels the plan seeks by 2025 to:

  • Increase the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity usage from about 44 percent last year, including the renewable energy credits, to 75 percent.
  • Increase waste diversion from 21 percent last year to 50 percent.
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled by 20 percent, although as of last year they appeared to have increased by about 17 percent since 2005.
  • Replace all lighting on city properties with energy efficient LED bulbs.

The plan has dozens of other recommendations and calls for an eventual goal of a carbon neutral city by 2050.

The plan makes no meaningful assessment of the cost of achieving any of its goals. But City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz this week promised to return to the Council by next March with some information on likely costs of the program.

Related stories

Climate action plan up for adoption tonight (12/10/18)

Meeting climate plan goals to cost city millions (12/3/18)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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