Monday night, the Oak Park village board was treated to a preview on Monday of the draft goals and actions of its climate and sustainability action plan. The plan is intended to be a guide for the village towards carbon neutrality, also known as net zero carbon emissions.
The village board hopes that the community will reduce its village-wide emissions by 60% by 2030 and reach net zero status by 2050. The actions and goals discussed Monday will guide Oak Park in implementing the practices necessary to achieve that ideal sustainable status.
“At the end of the day, it’s really a community effort,” said Marcella Bondie Keenan, Oak Park’s sustainability coordinator.
As humankind has plundered and depleted the Earth’s natural resources over centuries, the need to address climate change has become paramount. The village of Oak…
March 29, 2022March 29, 2022
The actions are broken down into three categories: mitigation actions which focus on reducing emissions and stabilizing levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; adaptation actions which seek to react positively to climate change impacts already in motion; and sustainability actions which address the “interrelated triple bottom line of people, planet and economic wellbeing to support overall sustainability goals.” The cost ranges and sub-cost ranges under each area will be refined in the next few weeks.
Monday’s presentation on the drafted goals and actions was the first actual glimpse into the comprehensive sustainability and climate action plan. Since September last year, the plan has been in development. Village board hires GRAEF engineering and consulting firmto complete its development. Around the same time, Bondie Keenan was added to the village staff.
May 13 will see the public unveiled the draft of the plan. GRAEF will present the final plan the village board June 27, The plan will address seven key areas: energy and housing; transport; stormwater, extreme weather; public safety; sustainable economic growth; healthy and sustainable food system; waste and sustainable material; and parks and plants.
Village board members reacted positively to the goals and actions draft, with many praising Bondie, Stephanie Hacker, and Brianna Forillo for their efforts.
But not all aspects are sustainable. When Trustee Jim Taglia asked if the plan will improve the community’s rate of water loss, Bondie Keenan said water conservation currently fell under adaptation actions but that she was considering moving it under the umbrella of health.
Oak Park buys its water from Chicago. According to Taglia, about 25 percent of the village’s water is lost through leaks in pipes and meter errors.
The Trustees also urged their team to look deeper in certain areas, including Trustee Arti Wade-Peddakotla. Arti felt that the goals and actions were not adequately centered around racial equity.
“It is well documented that the people that are going to bear the brunt and are bearing the brunt of climate change and the climate crisis are already disadvantaged people – low-income, Black, Brown people all across the world,” she said. “What does that mean for our community?”
Walker-Peddakotla, and Trustee Susan Buchanan, both reacted to the severity of climate crisis by advocating a more direct approach for community compliance. They believe that certain aspects of the plan should not be encouraged but must be mandated. Buchanan told her fellow board members there is no time for “cajoling.”
Lucia Robinson, Trustee of the Village Gas Leaf Blower Policy, considered mandates punitive. Lucia Robinson was against mandating compliance. She wished to see compliance encouraged rather than imposed, particularly regarding the potential restrictions to the village’s gas leaf blower policy. Draft climate plan includes a public health action to create a program to promote quiet, zero-emission lawncare equipment. “We are way past the point in the climate crisis that we can encourage people and hope that they will do the right thing,” Walker-Peddakotla told her. “They’ve had decades to do that.”