How You Can Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions as a Citizen


Encourage Community Action

You can work within your community to promote energy efficiency and use of clean energy in a variety of different ways. Make sure that public buildings are models of energy efficiency and encourage the incorporation of passive-solar techniques in community construction or remodeling projects. Urge your local library, businesses, and church or synagogue to install bike racks. Promote community carpooling plans and the construction of bike lanes. Work to change local zoning ordinances and other regulations that involve energy use. Encourage your local electric utilities to promote energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable energy sources.

Protecting and planting trees

Protecting forests and grasslands, and planting new trees contributes to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air. You can make a difference in your own backyard and community. Get a group in your neighborhood together and contact your local arborist or urban forester about planting trees on private property and public land. In addition to storing carbon, trees planted in and around urban areas and residences can provide much-needed shade in the summer, reducing energy bills and fossil fuel use. There are many opportunities to plant trees in the yard, along roads, in parks, and in public gardens. In addition, some charities plant fast-growing trees -- for as little as $0.10 per tree -- to help citizens in tropical developing countries restore the productivity of their lands. Conversely, clearing old-growth forests adds to the carbon in the atmosphere, so buying non-old-growth paper and wood is good for the climate as well as the forest. When buying wood products, check for labels that indicate the source of the timber. Supporting forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion makes sense for biodiversity, and it may make sense for the climate too. Forests that are well managed are more likely to store carbon effectively because more trees are left standing and carbon-storing soils are less disturbed.

Letters to the editor

Write to your local newspaper about the significance of the global warming threat and the need for action. Monitor your newspaper's coverage of this issue and write in response to any stories or letters that portray global warming inaccurately.

Use Your Investor Power

If you invest in power companies that continue to rely on coal, voice your concerns with unsustainable technologies and ask them to disclose their role in creating climate risks, assert that you prefer to invest your money in cleaner technologies. If you invest in mutual funds, tell the company that you expect them to vote for sustainability on climate risk resolutions.

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Last updated: September 16, 2021

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