Why take action?
To date the effort to combat climate change has been limited early efforts by some governments to regulate change through placing emission caps on large industrial emitters, programs to increase use of renewable energy technologies and though improvements in energy-use efficiency standards. By and large these efforts have been very limited and many governments, including those of many industrialized nations, have taken no substantive action to cause reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. In fact, as the global economy continues to grow the global emissions of greenhouse gases are continuing to increase. Most governments feel that programs that force emissions reductions will reduce economic competitiveness and they are therefore reluctant to take the necessary actions. It may be that individuals are better placed to take actions that can substantively reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.
The main driver of global greenhouse gas emissions is individual consumption. Whether its fossil fuels we use in our cars or furnaces, electricity we consume in our homes, or the energy that is consumed by industry, agriculture and the commercial entities that provide the goods and services we consume, the greenhouse gas emissions that result are driven by our personal consumption of energy and goods and services. Individuals drive the demand for these things that result in nearly all of the global emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. This should make you feel powerful because it means you personally can take action to help contribute to a substantial reduction in climate change.
Actions that you can take yourself
These actions concern reducing your consumption of hydrocarbon fuels and electricity, and making wiser choices in your consumption of other goods and services.
Fuel and Electricity Use
- drive less (take public transit, ride a bike, walk, don’t go, etc. )
- drive slower
- turn thermostat down a few degrees in winter and up a few degrees in summer
- turn off lights, TV, computers, etc. when not in use
- use cold water instead of hot water when you can
- try to get recreation from man-powered activities, instead of motorized toys
- if it burns fuel or uses electricity, do you really have to use it? eg. leaf blowers, gas fireplaces, powered lawn mowers.
Wiser Consumption Choices
- if you drive a lot, get a more fuel efficient vehicle, >35-40 mpg
- upgrade to high efficiency appliances, furnace and water heater
- upgrade your home’s insulation, widows etc.
- get a push lawn mower
- don’t buy goods and services you don’t really need
- buy food and goods that are produced closer to home