The western suburbs are mobilizing to fight against global warming

If the June 13 supercell storm that uprooted trees, downed power lines, damaged cars and ripped roofs off buildings is any indication of the dangers awaiting communities on a warming planet, a gathering of elected officials held on June 23 was an indication of what local leaders plan to do about it.

Mayors from at least 10 western suburbs, including Riverside President Joseph Ballerine, gathered in a boardroom at Triton College in River Grove and took turns signing a memorandum of understanding that signals their commitment to join the cross-community climate collaboration (C4).

The memo includes a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050.

The memorandum that the mayors have signed and most of their village councils have endorsed, is not legally binding and there is no cost for a suburb to join. Participating suburbs include Broadview, Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Riverside, Maywood, Berwyn, Bellwood, Westchester and River Grove. Other suburbs, including Brookfield, could join in the coming weeks and months.

Riverside Village Council voted 5-0 on June 16 to join C4. Village council representatives on the C4 task force – also called the cross-community core team – will be trustees Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga and Cristin Evans.

This core team is working with consultancies Urban Efficiency Group and Seven Generations Ahead, who will develop an awareness campaign, provide advice during the formation of the task force, help develop grants and other sources of funding to The initiatives.

“This is a great opportunity to work with our neighboring communities,” Marsh-Ozga said at the June 16 meeting of the Riverside Village Board. “We have discovered that recent events [after the supercell storm]when we work together, more can always be done, and this kind of information sharing and access to information can only help us achieve these goals more effectively.

The C4 initiative is led by Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson, Oak Park Village President Vicki Scaman and River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci. Politicians from other levels of government also attended the signing ceremony, including Senate Speaker Don Harmon (D-39th), Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-4th) and County Commissioner of Cook Brandon Johnson (D-1st).

“There is no downside to signing this deal,” Adduci said June 23. “Climate and environmental issues, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, affect us equally. Today is about working together to find solutions.

Scaman, who grew up in River Grove, said the C4 coalition wanted to hold the signing ceremony in Triton for a reason.

“It is an institution that we all share for the learning of our young people and we are here to ensure that their future is as bright as we all want it to be,” she said. “And we will need them to help us on this journey.”

According to the C4 memorandum, the initiative is designed to “bring together BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] and non-minority communities across revenue lines to share ideas, secure resources and drive large-scale projects within and between communities that meet agreed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets , equity and sustainability.

The communities signing the memorandum engage in a series of initiatives. In addition to publicly endorsing the C4, they also accept the C4 target of a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2010 levels and 100% by 2050 .

In addition, village leaders in participating suburbs agree to participate in monthly “cross-community” team meetings, create a sustainability task force or commission, and raise awareness of the C4 initiative, among other responsibilities.

Thompson said that while suburbs don’t commit any financial resources to C4, funding to pay for ongoing services and other costs could come from a variety of other places.

She said the West Central Municipal Conference (WCMC), a government council that represents the 40 municipalities that make up Chicago’s inner suburbs, is a possible source of direct funding or leverage to access other sources of funding. Participating governments pay a membership fee to attend the conference.

WCMC is one of 10 Chicago-area government councils that have adopted the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus’ Greenest Region Compact, which aims to “improve the quality of life for residents; environmental protection and stewardship and sustainable economic vitality,” according to the caucus website.

Urban Efficiency Group has worked in Broadview and Bellwood for several years. More recently, the minority-owned company helped Thompson create the Broadview Alliance for Sustainability, which focuses on a range of ways the village can strengthen its renewable energy infrastructure.

For example, Broadview officials plan to install electric vehicle charging stations in its municipal parking lots along the village’s Roosevelt Road corridor.

During the June 23 signing ceremony at Triton, Darnell Johnson, president of Urban Efficiency Group, said that while there are many different climate initiatives, C4’s focus on equity is what sets it apart. distinguishes from others.

“One of the things that’s very unique about this particular opportunity is the fact that it’s really built around ensuring that equity is centered in all the work that we do,” he said. he declares. “To make sure we find the gaps and the spaces that exist between the wealthier communities and those who have less.”

The C4 signing ceremony comes months after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body made up of global experts on man-made global warming, released its latest report.

“The [IPCC report] tells us that by 2030 we must reduce global emissions by 45% below 2010 levels,” said Gary Cuneen, executive director of Seven Generations Ahead, on June 23.

“If we don’t, we run the risk of global temperatures rising 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times,” he added. “Now if that happens they are telling us we are going to have a disaster on a level that is going to be unprecedented.”

Cuneen said the June 13 supercell storm that hit the Chicago area is just one extreme weather event in a week full of them — from the monsoons in India and Bangladesh, to 100-degree temperatures across the country with ‘massive and massive forest fires’ in Spain.

“Who knows what will happen next week or today,” Cuneen said. “All we know is that it will continue to happen unless we fix this problem.”

Bob Uphues contributed to this report.

Teresa H. Sadler