Citizen’s Guide to Taking Action on Climate Change

Report Summary

Why Local Action on Climate Change?

Scientists currently estimate that avoiding dangerous climate change would require significant emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2050. In addition to preventing dangerous impacts from climate change such as sea level rise and severe weather events, climate action can promote economic prosperity, energy security, more livable communities, and create ample cost-saving opportunities for businesses and homes.

Successfully reaching the deep emissions reduction goals called for by scientists will require action at all levels of society. Local governments are uniquely situated to implement measures at the community level that impact everyone’s ability to reduce their emissions in cost-effective ways. In addition, local governments play a special role in educating the public on how to live sustainably and what resources are available in the community to help you do so.

Taking action to address global warming can enhance local economic and social objectives.  Reducing emissions requires using energy more efficiently, and doing so cuts back on energy bills. Investing in public transit, biking infrastructure, and walkable communities can improve the local quality of life and make it easier for people to save money when gas prices spike. Developing clean renewable energy sources, promoting local food production, and weatherizing and insulating buildings can all help reduce emissions. In that way, climate action projects can create new green jobs that make communities more resilient in the face of economic downturns.

There are many ways that your actions as an individual will add up to help meet local emissions reduction goals, national goals, and ultimately the goal of reducing global emissions enough to prevent the effects of catastrophic climate change such as flooding of low-lying areas, threats to endangered species, and more severe weather events including droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. In so doing, your efforts will help your community become more sustainable and economically resilient and will help you reap energy cost-savings down the road.