When the challenge is as complex and systemic as climate change, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start and how each of us fits into the solution. But everyone can contribute to speeding the world’s transition to a clean energy economy.
All of us have influence – as citizens, consumers, employees, and leaders. And the only way we solve climate change is if you do your part. Together, we can transition the economy in the next several decades and make a better future for everyone.
We know that when it comes to climate change, personal action is critically important. In fact, governments and leaders around the world are already paying more attention to climate change in large part because activists have raised their voices to call for change. More companies are responding to the market signal consumers send when they purchase low-carbon and environmentally-friendly products. And policymakers are increasingly championing legislation and standards that incentivize all of us to choose clean energy solutions and decrease greenhouse gas emissions overall. If we step up right now, some of our actions will have exponential impact on getting the world to net zero.
Elected officials will adopt specific plans for addressing climate change if voters and constituents demand action. Creating a sense of urgency will lead to legislation and regulation that reduce emissions.
- Make calls, write letters, attend town halls. Showing up and making your voice heard is the best way to move lawmakers – especially when you ask questions and make specific demands.
- Look local as well as national. Federal elected leaders aren’t the only policymakers we need to reach. Governors, mayors, state officials, and city councils all wield important power over climate policy and are accountable to voters.
- Run for office. Many people in public office today started out running at the local or state level, and we need more climate advocates and policy experts to step into the arena.
Buying power is power. And as consumers we can create the demand for clean energy and technology by making the right choices when we buy. You can send a signal to the market that people want clean choices and are willing to pay for them by taking steps like:
- Sign up for a green pricing program with your utility. In a growing number of communities, households have the option to choose whether they sign up for traditional sources for the energy that powers their home or to pay a little more for a clean option.
- Reduce your home’s emissions. Homeowners can also choose to upgrade their heating and cooling systems and appliances to reduce their own carbon footprint – and potentially save money with more efficient devices and insulation.
- Buy an electric vehicle. The more people buy electric vehicles instead of internal combustion engine vehicles powered by gas, the faster we can transition our fleet to low-carbon and zero-carbon transportation.
- Try a plant-based burger. Every time you buy a plant-based burger instead of a beef burger (which is made from cows that are a leading producer of methane), you’re showing demand for a cleaner alternative, so innovators will continue to make better and tastier plant-based burgers and more people will eat them.
Both big companies and small businesses – especially those that work through local chambers of commerce – can have a huge impact on the market by adopting clean standards and getting more involved in the development of climate policy and solutions.
- Prioritize innovation in low-carbon solutions. Companies in the aerospace, materials, and energy industries can devote more of their revenue toward research and development of low-carbon innovations. The largest companies can even partner with government to offer their practical commercial expertise to public research efforts.
- Be an early adopter. Companies buy a lot of things – from vehicles for corporate fleets to the materials used to build and renovate their buildings and the electricity to run them. By committing to clean standards and using renewable power, companies can send a signal to the market about the value of developing low-carbon solutions.
- Engage in the policy-making process. Businesses – and the people they employ – can advocate for more R&D funding and speak out on behalf of policies designed to incentivize lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Connect with government-funded research. Businesses can provide great value by using their practical and commercial knowledge to advise government research programs – or help fund government R&D through joint projects and cost-sharing agreements.
- Help early-stage innovators develop, grow, and commercialize their technologies. Established businesses can help promising researchers turn their ideas into products by offering access to their testing facilities and data. They can provide fellowship programs, invest in new innovations, and finance new projects.