As many in our community know, the climate emergency demands comprehensive and effective action by all of us. Each year in the last three, Oak Park has borne climate impacts that damaged homes and yards, incurred unexpected costs, and affected our daily lives. This includes intense rains that flooded basements, deadly polar vortexes that caused skyrocketing heating costs, and long summer droughts that leave our yards and gardens parched.
The shifting climate has also had negative effects on health, putting many at higher risk for asthma and allergy attacks as well as anxiety and depression — all of these conditions have disproportionately affected under-resourced families and people of color just as COVID-19 has. These human-caused impacts call us to reduce our collective carbon footprint and join with many other municipalities in our region and throughout the country that have envisioned a future without greenhouse gas emissions.
With this sense of urgency, we have come together to form a resident-led Oak Park Climate Action Planning Team. Oak Park has a long tradition of implementing policies to build a sustainable community — and now we are excited for the opportunity to envision a comprehensive approach to climate change.
We applaud the efforts of the village to conduct a comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the results of which will be presented this month. The Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which tells us how much carbon pollution is emitted and from which sources, is the key for Oak Park to be a strong contributor to slowing climate change. It is the first step many communities have taken as they develop climate action plans.
Combined with the resources that all Oak Park residents have contributed to the Sustainability Fund, the inventory will pave the way to implement “shovel-ready” projects that reduce emissions village-wide immediately. And it will serve as a springboard for meaningful engagement of all Oak Parkers to have a say in an Oak Park Climate Action Plan.
Such a plan — one that is broadly consulted and has equity and justice at its core — cannot come soon enough. It will show the kind of community we are, and what future we seek for all residents. If we act on the Greenhouse Gas Inventory speedily and with good faith, we believe we can limit the detrimental effects of climate change, cultivating a future in which our community is resilient to the impacts that we know will occur.
We don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to work toward solutions that take into account the urgency of the crisis and the disproportionate effects of its impacts. Please join us — if you are interested in participating in a community-based climate action planning process, contact Laura Derks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Ayres Fisher
Honnie Aguilar Leinartas