I recently attended the Climate Leadership Conference in Denver and I had the opportunity to hear Carl Pope (former Executive Director of The Sierra Club) speak about his new book, Climate of Hope. Mr. Pope started his speech, and his book (written in collaboration with Mayor Michael Bloomberg), by noting that it is easy to be despondent about climate change.
The odds seem dramatically stacked against those of us who are working to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. Personally and professionally, I’ve been working on combating climate change for over a decade, and even I tune out when I see a video of a starving polar bear on my Facebook feed. It’s just too much. It’s too depressing.
However, what I know, and what many people working on climate change solutions understand, is that all is not lost. In fact, in many ways we have made dramatic progress in changing the course of our planet’s climate and curbing the biggest drivers of global warming. Many of these flashes of hope are coming not from our national political leaders, but instead from industry and local governments, driven by the economics of a new energy future.
Cities are taking the lead where the White House is dropping the ball. Mayor Bloomberg notes in Climate of Hope, “America’s ability to meet our Paris climate pledge doesn’t depend on Washington. It depends on cities continuing to protect their residents and invest in the future. It depends on businesses continuing to seek ways to save and make money.”
For example, as Mr. Pope noted in his speech, the pace of retirement of coal plants across the country has accelerated over the past year. In fact, as a nation we are retiring coal plants twice as fast after the 2016 election as we did before the election. Furthermore, the number of electric vehicles is gaining speed across the country, with rates of consumption rising 20% faster every year than predictions from the year before. Mr. Pope argued, “It is a fundamental fact that nation-states are sluggish. They are inherently NOT innovative and they cannot and will not lead. Bottom-up strategies, for deep structural reasons, will be the most effective in combating climate change.”
What kind of bottom-up strategies can you support and implement at home, at work, and at play? Here’s a list of our top five ways to fight climate change:
- Consider how far your food travels before you eat it. Instead of buying food from far away (which requires a lot of energy for transportation) grow your own veggies at home or buy as local and seasonal as possible.
- Walk the walk with your wallet by supporting companies that are producing sustainable products and putting the planet first.
- Measure your carbon footprint, and take steps to reduce it by 20% year over year. Remember, nobody is perfect, but small steps lead to big changes. You can do it! Measure it here and then see where you can reduce.
- Get political: Call your congresspeople, and ask them to support clean energy policies. Visit them at their home offices and attend their town hall meetings to hold them accountable!
- Attend an event at The Alliance Center! We host dozens of events each year related to climate change and we focus on giving tangible, actionable tools for combating climate change.
Want to see even more ways you can fight climate change and live a more sustainable life? Check out our Act Now page!