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Residents start climate action planning

Evanston needs to reduce its emissions of green house gases by 14 percent over the next four years if it hopes to meet Kyoto Protocol goals the City Council has adopted.

That was the conclusion the city’s sustainable programs coordinator, Carolyn Collopy, presented to 150 people gathered in the Civic Center’s Parasol Room Tuesday night for a meeting to launch efforts to develop a climate action plan for the city.

She said rough estimates she’s been able to develop suggest the city, its businesses and residents produced 12.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the most common so-called greenhouse gas, in 2005.

Linda Young of the Center for Neighborhood Technology said about 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago come from energy production — mostly what’s used to heat and cool buildings.

Transportation, she said, accounts for 20 percent, industrial processes 5 percent and waste handling — the treatment of solid waste and waste water — adds another 4 percent.

She said that for the six county region as a whole the proportions shift, with transportation rising to 31 percent of the total, because of longer commuting distances further from the city.

CNT is one of several consulting groups that have worked to develop Chicago’s as-yet-unreleased climate action plan.

Young said that retrofitting buildings to increase energy efficiency can reduce energy use by as much as 30 percent.

As for transportation, she said the primary goal has to be to get people out of cars, reducing total vehicle miles traveled, because vehicles on the road account for 91 percent of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to transportation.

Those attending the meeting split into nine work groups to focus on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in different aspects of life. The groups range from renewable energy resources to transportation and land use.

Initial suggestions in the transportation and land use group ranged from shortening travel times by reducing the number of stop signs on city streets to encouraging developers of new buildings to provide parking spaces for car-sharing programs.

The groups plan to meet several times over the next several months before reconvening to present a comprehensive draft plan for the city on May 4.

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