August 10, 2021

Group Seeks Naperville’s Support of Sustainability, Climate Change Action Report

The Naperville Environment and Sustainability Task Force (NEST) is hoping for Naperville City Council’s support of its newly released sustainability and climate change action report, dubbed Sustainable Naperville 2036. The local report comes on the heels of the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report released Aug. 9, emphasizing the need to reduce the global impacts on climate change.

New IPCC Findings

Jodi Trendler, co-chair for NEST and a Naperville resident, said it is a “significant coincidence” the two reports have become available at about the same time. IPCC’s report illustrates a grim picture confirming that efforts are needed sooner than previously projected in order to reduce the global impacts of climate change.

Local Implications Explored

Trendler said its implications are huge for Naperville and its efforts to address issues of the environment and sustainability.

“We’ve spent the past two years getting ready for this and were prepared for this,” Trendler said. “We did account for this in our calculations knowing that the recommendations that are currently in place are not going to be enough because people aren’t doing enough.”

NEST’s report outlines 30 objectives and 86 strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the community and is derived from more than 5,100 hours of research completed by nearly 50 volunteers. It recommends Naperville reduce its emissions by 60% from what they were in 2012 by 2036.

NEST is proposing that the city decrease its energy use by taking various steps every year, which could involve, among other things, installing renewable energy, reducing vehicles miles traveled and reducing waste.

Environment and Sustainability Goal Setting

The group would like its objectives to be met by the city by 2036, which Trendler said is important because the energy purchasing contract between Naperville and the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) is set to expire in 2035.

“The challenge that we face with our city being a municipal utility [provider] is that in 2011, we entered a contract with IMEA that is a long-term contract that runs through 2035 for energy purchasing,” she said. “It’s actually that contract that is the challenge to deal with. We need to work on adapting things around this consideration that we’re in this contract for.”

NEST takes issue with the IMEA and its continued use of coal to produce electricity. Trendler said the group would prefer that clean energy is employed.  “We’re fine being in contract with IMEA, if IMEA is going to purchase clean energy,” she said.

Progress Report

Trendler lauded the city for working to implement some of NEST’s initiatives, like hiring a sustainability coordinator. Naperville also reinstated its interdepartmental sustainability task force.

Cathy Clarkin, co-chair for NEST and another Naperville resident, said she wanted it to be clear that the onus doesn’t fall on the city alone to address environment and sustainability issues in the community.

“When you look at climate change, there are definitely two sides to the coin,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity to improve the way that a lot of things work—government, business, the public good.”

Next Steps

City officials are expected to hold a sustainability workshop Aug. 31, which NEST hopes will be a kickoff meeting for the initiatives it is pushing.

The sustainability workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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