Updated: Jan 11
The topic of climate change isn’t new, and the conversation has been ongoing for years.
But as scientists and experts ring the alarm on the impending effects, there’s no time like the present to think about our role in climate action and the best ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
According to the United Nations, climate action can refer to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-induced impacts. There are lots of way to think about climate action, but for starters, we can strive to reduce our household greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
Carbon dioxide emissions are the largest portion of GHGs in the U.S. at 82%. By reducing our carbon emissions, and in turn reducing our carbon footprint, we can leave one of the biggest impacts long-term.
A carbon footprint is based on “the amount of greenhouse gases—including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and others—that you produce as you live your life,” according to the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
One way of tackling this is through electricity and its associated carbon emissions. Using renewable energy to power our homes, which can provide carbon-free electricity, is one step forward in reducing that household impact.
Electricity generation is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases in the United States. It represents 28% of all carbon emissions, with transportation producing the same percentage of emissions, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
As of 2018, the U.S. emitted 6,677 million metric tons of CO2, with 75.4% of total emissions being from fossil fuels based on data from the EPA.With current electricity generation averages, U.S. households generate approximately 5.9 metric tons of CO2 per home from electricity each year.
As renewable energy generation costs fall and power demand continues to grow, it is more affordable than ever for the consumer to act. While solutions to the problem will require action from all sectors, our roles in climate action can start with us at home and in our own communities.
By moving away from fossil fuel-backed sources of electricity generation, a purchase of carbon-free, renewable energy to power a household could potentially alleviate tons of CO2 per household each year and in turn lessen the environmental impact. What goes even further than simply switching to renewable energy is investing in new sources of renewable energy to add to a more sustainable grid.
Although clean energy in any capacity is a step in the right direction, by focusing our efforts on supporting new renewable energy as a consumer, whether wind, solar or other renewable energy sources, we are aiming to develop a clean and affordable future away from carbon emissions while expanding renewable energy resources for all.
In the New Year, we will be faced with a lot of uncertainties as we all try to mitigate the continued effects of the pandemic.
After all of the ups and downs of 2020, now is the time to take action and to make changes that not only help our households but our communities as a whole going froward.
Our actions post-crisis can influence the path of carbon emissions for decades to come, but starting with renewable energy for our own homes is a good place to begin.
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