By Sarah Barney, eco-journalist intern
Rockford City Council announced a proclamation that the city will be carbon-neutral by 2050. This initiative was led by the Rockford Sustainability Committee (SusCom). In particular, the chair of the committee, Mindy Miner, worked to bring this idea to fruition. In August, she did a presentation to the City Council on why being carbon-neutral is important for the City of Rockford and its constituents. Because of Miner and the rest of the SusCom, the council decided that this was an important and achievable goal.
The City’s proclamation states that it will work toward carbon-neutrality by 2050. Despite the simplicity, the words have a big impact. The first step is to prepare a master plan delineating how the City will pursue sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint. The City Council plans to work towards the goal in small steps.
Their primary goal is to participate in one of SusCom’s programs called Green Leaders. Businesses in Rockford can receive a Green Leader Environmental Stewardship certification, which means that the business participates in sustainable activities and practices that fall in several categories. There are three types of stewardship certifications, depending on the level of sustainability: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. A Green Leader business will receive a sticker to display in their business-front, and they will be highlighted on a variety of media platforms. Rockford City Hall is not currently Green Leader certified, but the City Council is working to meet the sustainability requirements.
Rockford also wants to demonstrate good stewardship in using citizens’ money for sustainable change and development. Having a carbon-neutral by 2050 proclamation gives the framework for implementing policies and programs within the city government.
Regarding the proclamation, Miner stated over email, “The Rockford Sustainability Committee is grateful to the City Council for allowing us to recommend the proclamation. We are even more grateful that they voted unanimously to sign it and begin the process of creating a climate action plan. In light of the rapid changes we are seeing almost daily as a result of climate change, we are anxious to play a part in getting our community as prepared as we can without the benefit of a crystal ball to show us the future!”
In addition to the carbon neutral proclamation, SusCom has made incredible strides in Rockford since its formation two years ago. They’ve planted trees around the city, and they’ve done community education on topics such as recycling and how to be a carbon-neutral family. They hope to do much more, and with the new proclamation SusCom will have the ability to continue making impacts in Rockford.
To read more about the Rockford Sustainability Committee, check out the SusCom website.
Featured photo of the Rogue River in downtown Rockford, just below the former Wolverine tannery Site. Courtesy Andrew Blok.