Village Enlists Community Participation to Develop Climate Action Strategies

Village Enlists Community Participation to Develop Climate Action Strategies

Northbrook will assemble a working team of officials, residents, and business community representatives to define local goals and strategies to address climate change.  The Board of Trustees approved the team approach to developing policy following a recent presentation by Village consultant paleBLUEdot on the long term impact of current practices. The report suggested goals for reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) through the use of renewable energy sources, increased tree canopy, improved energy efficiency in buildings, reduced vehicle emissions, and other tactics.

Ted Redmond, co-founder of paleBLUEdot, explained that GHGs, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and others, are byproducts of burning fossil fuels for energy.  These gases trap heat from the Earth’s surface that would otherwise dissipate through the atmosphere’s upper layers. Local effects of rising global temperatures include hotter summer temperatures, intense storms followed by long dry periods, poorer air quality, increases in airborne allergens, and growths in the population of mosquitoes, ticks and other pests.  Redmond calculated that the multiplying problems of climate change over the next 80 years would take an average annual economic toll on Northbrook of over $51M.

The consultant’s report suggested a target of reducing GHG in Village operations and community-wide emissions of 30% below 2018 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2018 levels by 2040.  This level aligns with the 2015 Paris Agreement, which seeks to control global temperature increase to no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement is a goal document for numerous public and private entities, including the State of Illinois, over 400 cities, and major corporations.

According to paleBLUEdot, Northbrook residents and businesses have already made some progress in recent years.  GHG emissions in the Village decreased by 21.83 percent from 2010 to 2018, and Northbrook is significantly ahead of similar communities in its use of solar electricity.  A community-wide online survey and listening sessions conducted over the last several months indicated a high level of concern about climate change, suggesting a willingness to support new sustainability initiatives.

Moving forward, Trustees Bob Israel and Heather Ross will head a Climate Action Planning Team to review paleBLUEdot’s data in detail, develop specific goals, and seek community engagement. The team will include representatives from relevant Village Commissions and staff Departments, government entities like the Park District, Library, and schools, the business community, local advocacy groups such as Go Green Northbrook, and advocates for groups (seniors, the disabled, or persons of color) who may be at increased risk due to climate change.  Board Member Robyn Kole, Karlin Kerschner Sharpe & Co. LLP, will represent the Chamber on the team.  The proposed timeline would have a final Climate Action Plan ready to present to the Village Board in March 2021.

Copies of the reports and information on the Village’s Climate Action Plan can be found on the Village’s website.