The Climate Action Handbook

A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone

Author Heidi Roop
Look inside
“What can I do, personally, about the climate crisis? . . . Ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Using this passion may motivate you to help shape the future of your community.”
The New York Times Climate Forward newsletter

This must-have book shows us WHY we need to take action now to combat climate change and then, critically, HOW, through easy-to-understand language and fascinating infographics that offer each of us varied and doable solutions to the many challenges facing our planet.

As more focus is put on climate science, there is a need for each of us to learn how we can change our habits in our home, communities, and government to save our planet. Enter The Climate Action Handbook.

A visually stunning guide, it does what no other climate change book manages to do: it's approachable, digestible, and offers the average person ideas, options, and a roadmap for action. It also offers hope—often overlooked in climate change conversations. Climate actions can create near-instantaneous improvements in air quality and can offer ways to address societal inequities, green our communities, save money, and build local economies.

From food and fashion choices, rethinking travel, greening up our homes and gardens, to civic engagement and championing community climate planning, Dr. Heidi Roop shares 100 wide-ranging ways that readers from all walks of life can help move the needle in the right direction. 

Actions include:
• Cutting down on food waste
• Reducing your driving speed
• Voting in every election
• Using the cold-water cycle on your washing machine
• Supporting healthy soils in your gardens and community green spaces
• Engaging in local climate action planning
• Preparing an emergency kit for your home
• Deleting unused emails and online accounts
• Swapping out milk for nondairy alternatives like oat milk
• Opting for slower shipping whenever possible
• Regularly maintaining and clean your heating and cooling systems
• Engaging in climate conversations at work and at home
And many more!

Return to this invaluable resource again and again to discover a roadmap for action and much-needed hope. What will your climate journey look like?
DR. HEIDI ROOP is the Director of the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership and an Assistant Professor of Climate Science and Extension Specialist at the University of Minnesota. Her research and Extension programs combine cutting-edge climate science and effective science communication to increase the use and integration of climate change information in decision-making at a range of scales—from city and state to national and international levels. Her climate science research takes her around the world from Antarctica to California to the shores of Lake Superior. She is also an affiliate assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, and serves as an expert advisor to organizations and agencies as they seek to build resilience to climate change.

JOSHUA M. POWELL is the author of The Pacific Crest Trail: A Visual Compendium. He works as a graphic designer and lives in the Inland Northwest with his wife and son.
Contents

Preface

Overview
Greenhouse Gases: Whey are they such a problem?
Understanding the Scale of the Problem
Understanding the Inequities of Climate Change 
Climate Action in Focus: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation 
Climate Impacts Across the United States

Starting and Sustaining Your Climate Action Journey


Action 1: Consider Collective and Individual Actions 
Action 2: Understand the Disconnect Between Our Actions and Our Impact 
Action 3: Be Privy to the Politics of Climate Change 
Action 4: Beware the Coordinated Corporate Anti-Climate Campaign 
Action 5: Center Action in Your Strengths and Passions 
  
Energy Production and Transportation

Action 6: Know What Powers You…and Your Home 
Action 7: Support Renewables in Your Region 
Action 8: Curb the Cost of Renewable Energy 
Action 9: Weigh the Impact of Decarbonization 
Action 10: Commute Mindfully 
Action 11: Consider Carpooling and Rideshares 
Action 12: Buy and Drive an Electric Car 
Action 13: Drive Efficiently 
Action 14: Be Idle Free 
  
Travel and Work

Action 15: Fly Less, Fly Economy 
Action 16: Vacation Closer to Home 
Action 17: Hotel or Home Share? Seek Out Eco-Friendly Accommodations 
Action 18: Reduce Trash When You Travel 
Action 19: Find Alternatives for Work-Related Travel 
Action 20: Divest and Reinvest 
Action 21: Learn More About Climate Financing 
Action 22: Work Remotely if Possible 
Action 23: Seek Out Climate Solutions in the Workplace 
Action 24: Reduce the Climate Footprints in the Buildings Around Us 
Action 25: Go Green and Cool with Rooftops 
Action 26: Consider Climate as Part of Your Career 
Action 27: Use Caution with Corporate Climate Commitments 

Food and Farming

Action 28: Eat Your Broccoli and Pass on the Meat 
Action 29: Waste Not Want Not: Cut Down on Your Food Waste 
Action 30: Compost 
Action 31: Shop for or Order Your Meals Mindfully 
Action 32: The Climate Cost of Food Take-Out and Delivery 
Action 33: Thoughtfully Opt for Meat Alternatives 
Action 34: Switch to Non-Dairy Alternatives 
Action 35: Assess the Pros and Cons of Eating Local 
Action 36: Enjoy Your Chocolate Responsibly 
Action 37: Drink Responsibly--Imbibe with Climate in Mind 
Action 38: Get to Know Your Favorite Coffee 
Action 39: Support Local, Sustainable Fisheries 
 
Shopping and Consumer Choices

Action 40: Reduce Consumption Through Community Sharing 
Action 41: Turn Away from Fast Fashion 
Action 42: Weigh Your Diaper Options Carefully 
Action 43: Ditch the Bottled Water 
Action 44: Reduce Your Consumption of Disposable Plastic 
Action 45: Learn About Microplastics and How You Can Avoid Them 
Action 46: Make More Thoughtful Online Purchases 
Action 47: Slow Down Your Shipping 
Action 48: Keep Your Devices Longer and Dispose of Electronics Properly 
Action 49: Shop Your Values (pull quote or other simple treatment) 
Action 50: Beware Greenwashing 
 
Actions Around the Home

Action 51: Protect Your Property and Consider Where You Rent or Buy 
Action 52: Check your Insurance Policy and Premium 
Action 53: Prepare a “Go-Bag” and a “Stay-Bin” 
Action 54: Create a More Energy-Efficient Home 
Action 55: From Your Cooktop to Rooftop: Work Towards Electrification 
Action 56: Be Thoughtful About Your Air Conditioning 
Action 57: Go Solar 
Action 58: Lighten the Load and Switch to LEDs 
Action 59: Go Low Flow With Your Fixtures 
Action 60: Clean Your Clothes Efficiently 
Action 61: Garden for a Greener Planet 
Action 62: Reduce Waste and Recycle 
Action 63: Calculate your Carbon Footprint 
 
Nature-based and Natural Solutions

Action 64: (Carefully) Consider Carbon Removal and Offsets 
Action 65: Learn About and Champion Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage 
Action 66: Plant a Tree…or a Trillion 
Action 67: Reduce Your Carbon Offsets 
Action 68: Clean Up Your Dirt 
Action 69: Support Coastal Wetland Conservation 
Action 70: Conserve, Restore, (Re)connect Land 
Action 71: Go Green with Our Infrastructure 
Action 72: Plant Trees to Shade Houses and Buildings 

Health and Wellbeing

Action 73: Protect Yourself and Your Community from Extreme Heat 
Action 74: Protect Your Air 
Action 75: Prepare for More Pests 
Action 76: Address Your Mental Health and Anxiety 
Action 77: Express Yourself Creatively 
Action 78: Buy Beauty Products Responsibly 
Action 79: Change Your Fitness Pattern and Habits 
Action 80: Cherish Your Winter Recreation 
Action 81: Pay the Appropriate Fees for Outdoor Recreation 

Civic and Community Engagement

Action 82: Vote in Every Election 
Action 83: Engage Your Elected Officials 
Action 84: Champion Climate Planning in Your Community 
Action 85: Contribute to a Local Community Groups and Organizations 
Action 86: Support Youth Climate Activism 
Action 87: Share Your Observations and Experiences 
Action 88: Role-Play Climate Solutions 

Education and Climate Information

Action 89: Act on Behalf of Your Children’s Future 
Action 90: Seek Climate Solutions for School Buses and Buildings 
Action 91: Teach Climate Change in the Classroom 
Action 92: Talk Climate with Our Kids 
Action 93: Be a Savvy Consumer of Information 
Action 94: Track the State of the Science 
Action 95: Look to Local Climate Science Leaders 
Action 96: Look to Local Community Climate Leaders 
Action 97: Talk About Climate Issues with Friends and Family 
Action 98: Get Social on Social Media 
Action 99: Embrace Your Inner Bookworm 
Action 100: Celebrate Success and Express Gratitude 
 
Conclusion: Continuing Your Climate Action Journey
Preface
In 2015, 196 countries endorsed the Paris Agreement, committing to the goal of limiting global temperature rise to “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) and “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C” (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels (the mid- to late-1800s is commonly used as a reference point for pre-industrial conditions and is a baseline against which current temperatures are compared). If the rate of current warming continues, global average warming is likely to reach the 1.5°C target between 2030 and 2052--within the lifetime of most people alive today. With every increment of additional warming, the costs and challenges of climate impacts increase. The next decade is pivotal for climate action and for global society. What we choose to do--or not do--over the next several years will shape our collective climate-changed future for generations.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C can be achieved only if action is taken to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by around 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and to net zero by 2050. Net zero means that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) being produced is matched by the amount being removed, by activities that take it out of the atmosphere, like planting trees, and deploying technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

This all requires societal transformation and rapid implementation of ambitious greenhouse gas reduction measures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for evaluating the science related to climate change, makes it clear that no single sector, action, or fuel type can provide the needed emission reductions to reach these targets. Limiting warming to 1.5°C will require largely phasing out coal use by midcentury, reducing CO2 emissions from industry by 75 to 90 percent by 2050 (relative to 2010), supplying most electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and significantly enhancing energy efficiency across all sectors, including in commercial buildings and homes.

Much of this work is underway, but reaching these goals means we must accelerate the pace and scale of our global climate work over the next 10 to 20 years. And while there is no question that this type of transformative change will require large-scale systemic changes, each and every one of us can show up in the conversations and actions needed to help meet these ambitious goals. Something you care about is at risk from climate change. We each need to learn about the local and global consequences of these changes and find ways, large and small, to engage in solutions.

This book is an attempt to outline just a few of the myriad ways that individuals from all walks of life and perspectives can better understand what climate change will mean for the things they care about, as well as to outline ways we can show up. This book represents a passion project meeting a practical need. I, too, wanted to know where there were opportunities for me to learn, engage, and act. I wanted to help to answer the question I hear daily: What can I do to help address climate change?

The climate actions presented here are an attempt to help paint a picture of the breadth, depth, and opportunity that abounds in the space of climate change solutions. Importantly, not all climate actions captured here are directly associated with emissions reductions; climate solutions aren’t only an emissions-related numbers game, and not all actions are easily quantifiable. This book intentionally doesn’t use a hierarchy or quantification of what actions are “best” or have the biggest ‘impact.” Other resources, like Project Drawdown, an award-winning climate nonprofit, paint a sophisticated, data-driven picture of climate solutions at scale. Some of those same solutions are here in this book, but so are actions like being a savvy consumer of climate information, becoming civically engaged, and participating in climate conversations. Some actions are costly; some are free. Some are time-intensive; some require a little forethought or reflection. All have value and represent some form of impact whether that is environmental, social or at the individual or collective scale.

Ultimately, the sections in this book are bite-size pieces to help us get our arms around a big, beautifully complex challenge. For each fact or statistic in this book, there were dozens more that weren’t able to fit. Each action or idea offers an entry point into a topic that might be of particular interest to you. Some might inspire you to think (and act!) in a different way. Others might just provide you with more knowledge around the impacts and consequences of climate change. There is a wealth of information available and numerous nuances for each topic. Each one could easily have become a book in its own right.

And this amount of information is growing every day as concern grows and solutions are developed or scaled. The data sources, in fact, seem infinite, and the calculus, facts, and figures are ever-evolving and changing. Even over the time it took to write this book, new research, poll results, and climate commitments were made. This will continue. I choose to see this as a sign that the climate change landscape is shifting and evolving to meet the challenge of the moment, with new interest and investments being made to work toward climate change. We are living through in a dynamic moment that will surely make it into history books.

Facts and figures don’t necessarily change hearts and minds, but people doing things can. And many of the people I interact with, from all different walks of life, are seeking more information to inform their unique climate solutions journey. They are often looking for more information about specific actions to inform themselves, but also to share in conversations with their family members, friends, and coworkers, and in their communities.

Let’s be clear, climate change will bring environmental, social, and cultural change. Our past emissions of greenhouse gases have committed us to change, but we still get to choose how much change we experience, and what kind. Human-caused climate change is already causing people to experience loss of property, loss of culture and identity, and loss of livelihoods. But embedded within many climate solutions are opportunities--opportunities to create a healthier, brighter future. Climate actions can create near-instantaneous improvements in air quality and can offer ways to address societal inequities, green our communities, save money, build local economies and jobs, and help develop or deepen relationships.

My hope is that something in the pages that follow will empower you to evaluate, engage, and act. How we engage and what we do may change day-to-day, month to month, or year to year, but what matters is that we do act and that we build and maintain momentum. We can do that by each doing some of the work as individuals and work with others to advocate for the systems-based changes we know are needed to decarbonize the world and build climate-ready communities. Together, we can help shape and create the future we want through actions big and small. At the end of the day, every action really can matter. We just have to act.


Action 15: Fly Less, Fly Economy
Commercial and freight aviation produces an estimated 2.5 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions and 1.9 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. However, aviation’s impact on the warming of the planet is higher, at around 3.5 percent, due to a complex set of factors including the production of water vapor, soot and sulfate aerosols, and increased cloudiness that are created by the formation of contrails. While these numbers may seem small, between 2013 and 2018, aviation-based emissions increased by 32 percent, with an increase of around 5 percent in global aviation-based CO2 emissions each year between 2010 and 2020.Aviation emissions, including all of the greenhouse gases emitted by airplanes, have doubled since the mid-1980s.

Despite growing global demand for flying today, commercial aviation emissions are produced by a tiny fraction of the world’s population, with only 11 percent traveling by air in 2018 and just 1 percent responsible for 50 percent of the CO2 emissions from commercial aviation. In 2018, the United States had a reported 590 million domestic air passengers, and North America accounted for just over 25 percent of total global air transportation.

Even while there are new commitments from the aviation industry to expand the use of more sustainable fuels and create zero-emissions aircraft, those technologies are not yet proven at scale and are still a ways off. So, for those of us who fly, flying less is an important climate act. In fact, flying can represent a disproportionate part of an individual’s own carbon footprint, as mile for mile, flying is one of the most emissions-intensive activities many of us engage in. And flying in the front of the aircraft in premium classes results in an impact about three times worse--these seats are larger and mean fewer passengers who can share the total emissions produced during a given trip. If your work has traditionally required travel, an increasing number of options are available to limit it, such as virtual and hybrid meetings or conferences. For a more detailed look at the role of business and conference travel, check out Action 19.

How can you minimize your air travel, and will you choose to sit in coach?


Action 48: Keep Your Devices Longer and Dispose of Them Properly
Open that junk drawer, closet, or favorite hiding spot for your old phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. Did you know that both the devices collecting dust and the ones we are actively using come with a real climate impact? It isn’t just the devices themselves--every text, email, funny meme, or online purchase we make requires a server and data center, which are incredibly energy-intensive.

Smartphones have a surprising impact too. One study calculated the emissions from smartphone manufacturing and use at 125 megatons CO2e, with around 85-95 percent of these emissions produced during manufacturing. When we look at the full life cycle of a smartphone--from mining and manufacturing the 60 different elements in the phone to how it is disposed of at the end of its life--it adds up. In fact, the amount of waste produced in the European Union from manufacturing new electronics was five times greater than the amount of e-waste created by EU consumers disposing of their old electronics.

All of this waste is problematic, whether in the manufacturing or end-of-life stage. For example, electronic waste, a.k.a. e-waste--which refers to products at the end of their “useful life--is a growing problem. It has been called a national security risk, is bad for our health, has real financial costs, is rarely properly recycled (leading to the loss of critical resources), and can be a real environmental justice issue. Globally, 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was created in 2019, with an estimated $57 billion of reusable, high-value materials like gold, copper, and platinum being tossed or burned as a result of poor practices by consumers and corporations.

What can we do? Keep your electronic devices as long as possible, and avoid the urge to upgrade your phone every time a new version is available. Rather than replacing our phones every two years, keeping these devices (that require phenomenal resources to create) will help limit our impact. And when you need to get a new phone, tablet, computer, or monitor, please properly recycle your old devices. Today, 99 percent of smartphones are not recycled. On a bigger scale, we also need to encourage policies and companies to get our data centers running on renewable energy.

Will you commit to keeping your devices as long as possible and creating less e-waste?
“What can I do, personally, about the climate crisis? [Readers] often ask us a version of this question....[Roop] says that civic engagement is one of the most effective ways for individuals to make a difference and to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis....Ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Using this passion may motivate you to help shape the future of your community.”
The New York Times Climate Forward newsletter

"[The Climate Action Handbook] provides lots of ideas—like eating more plant-based meals, choosing slower shipping for deliveries, voting in every election, and supporting youth climate activists. ... The ideas are accompanied by striking illustrations that help readers understand what they can do and why it makes a difference."
—Yale Climate Connections

" . . . filled with 100 ideas to help people lower their carbon footprint and learn how to prepare for the climate changes that have already happened. . . . There's a chapter on changes to make in your home, such as LED light bulbs, lowering your water heater temperature and fixing the insulation to ensure heat doesn't escape."
—CBS News Minnesota
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About

“What can I do, personally, about the climate crisis? . . . Ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Using this passion may motivate you to help shape the future of your community.”
The New York Times Climate Forward newsletter

This must-have book shows us WHY we need to take action now to combat climate change and then, critically, HOW, through easy-to-understand language and fascinating infographics that offer each of us varied and doable solutions to the many challenges facing our planet.

As more focus is put on climate science, there is a need for each of us to learn how we can change our habits in our home, communities, and government to save our planet. Enter The Climate Action Handbook.

A visually stunning guide, it does what no other climate change book manages to do: it's approachable, digestible, and offers the average person ideas, options, and a roadmap for action. It also offers hope—often overlooked in climate change conversations. Climate actions can create near-instantaneous improvements in air quality and can offer ways to address societal inequities, green our communities, save money, and build local economies.

From food and fashion choices, rethinking travel, greening up our homes and gardens, to civic engagement and championing community climate planning, Dr. Heidi Roop shares 100 wide-ranging ways that readers from all walks of life can help move the needle in the right direction. 

Actions include:
• Cutting down on food waste
• Reducing your driving speed
• Voting in every election
• Using the cold-water cycle on your washing machine
• Supporting healthy soils in your gardens and community green spaces
• Engaging in local climate action planning
• Preparing an emergency kit for your home
• Deleting unused emails and online accounts
• Swapping out milk for nondairy alternatives like oat milk
• Opting for slower shipping whenever possible
• Regularly maintaining and clean your heating and cooling systems
• Engaging in climate conversations at work and at home
And many more!

Return to this invaluable resource again and again to discover a roadmap for action and much-needed hope. What will your climate journey look like?

Author

DR. HEIDI ROOP is the Director of the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership and an Assistant Professor of Climate Science and Extension Specialist at the University of Minnesota. Her research and Extension programs combine cutting-edge climate science and effective science communication to increase the use and integration of climate change information in decision-making at a range of scales—from city and state to national and international levels. Her climate science research takes her around the world from Antarctica to California to the shores of Lake Superior. She is also an affiliate assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, and serves as an expert advisor to organizations and agencies as they seek to build resilience to climate change.

JOSHUA M. POWELL is the author of The Pacific Crest Trail: A Visual Compendium. He works as a graphic designer and lives in the Inland Northwest with his wife and son.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Overview
Greenhouse Gases: Whey are they such a problem?
Understanding the Scale of the Problem
Understanding the Inequities of Climate Change 
Climate Action in Focus: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation 
Climate Impacts Across the United States

Starting and Sustaining Your Climate Action Journey


Action 1: Consider Collective and Individual Actions 
Action 2: Understand the Disconnect Between Our Actions and Our Impact 
Action 3: Be Privy to the Politics of Climate Change 
Action 4: Beware the Coordinated Corporate Anti-Climate Campaign 
Action 5: Center Action in Your Strengths and Passions 
  
Energy Production and Transportation

Action 6: Know What Powers You…and Your Home 
Action 7: Support Renewables in Your Region 
Action 8: Curb the Cost of Renewable Energy 
Action 9: Weigh the Impact of Decarbonization 
Action 10: Commute Mindfully 
Action 11: Consider Carpooling and Rideshares 
Action 12: Buy and Drive an Electric Car 
Action 13: Drive Efficiently 
Action 14: Be Idle Free 
  
Travel and Work

Action 15: Fly Less, Fly Economy 
Action 16: Vacation Closer to Home 
Action 17: Hotel or Home Share? Seek Out Eco-Friendly Accommodations 
Action 18: Reduce Trash When You Travel 
Action 19: Find Alternatives for Work-Related Travel 
Action 20: Divest and Reinvest 
Action 21: Learn More About Climate Financing 
Action 22: Work Remotely if Possible 
Action 23: Seek Out Climate Solutions in the Workplace 
Action 24: Reduce the Climate Footprints in the Buildings Around Us 
Action 25: Go Green and Cool with Rooftops 
Action 26: Consider Climate as Part of Your Career 
Action 27: Use Caution with Corporate Climate Commitments 

Food and Farming

Action 28: Eat Your Broccoli and Pass on the Meat 
Action 29: Waste Not Want Not: Cut Down on Your Food Waste 
Action 30: Compost 
Action 31: Shop for or Order Your Meals Mindfully 
Action 32: The Climate Cost of Food Take-Out and Delivery 
Action 33: Thoughtfully Opt for Meat Alternatives 
Action 34: Switch to Non-Dairy Alternatives 
Action 35: Assess the Pros and Cons of Eating Local 
Action 36: Enjoy Your Chocolate Responsibly 
Action 37: Drink Responsibly--Imbibe with Climate in Mind 
Action 38: Get to Know Your Favorite Coffee 
Action 39: Support Local, Sustainable Fisheries 
 
Shopping and Consumer Choices

Action 40: Reduce Consumption Through Community Sharing 
Action 41: Turn Away from Fast Fashion 
Action 42: Weigh Your Diaper Options Carefully 
Action 43: Ditch the Bottled Water 
Action 44: Reduce Your Consumption of Disposable Plastic 
Action 45: Learn About Microplastics and How You Can Avoid Them 
Action 46: Make More Thoughtful Online Purchases 
Action 47: Slow Down Your Shipping 
Action 48: Keep Your Devices Longer and Dispose of Electronics Properly 
Action 49: Shop Your Values (pull quote or other simple treatment) 
Action 50: Beware Greenwashing 
 
Actions Around the Home

Action 51: Protect Your Property and Consider Where You Rent or Buy 
Action 52: Check your Insurance Policy and Premium 
Action 53: Prepare a “Go-Bag” and a “Stay-Bin” 
Action 54: Create a More Energy-Efficient Home 
Action 55: From Your Cooktop to Rooftop: Work Towards Electrification 
Action 56: Be Thoughtful About Your Air Conditioning 
Action 57: Go Solar 
Action 58: Lighten the Load and Switch to LEDs 
Action 59: Go Low Flow With Your Fixtures 
Action 60: Clean Your Clothes Efficiently 
Action 61: Garden for a Greener Planet 
Action 62: Reduce Waste and Recycle 
Action 63: Calculate your Carbon Footprint 
 
Nature-based and Natural Solutions

Action 64: (Carefully) Consider Carbon Removal and Offsets 
Action 65: Learn About and Champion Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage 
Action 66: Plant a Tree…or a Trillion 
Action 67: Reduce Your Carbon Offsets 
Action 68: Clean Up Your Dirt 
Action 69: Support Coastal Wetland Conservation 
Action 70: Conserve, Restore, (Re)connect Land 
Action 71: Go Green with Our Infrastructure 
Action 72: Plant Trees to Shade Houses and Buildings 

Health and Wellbeing

Action 73: Protect Yourself and Your Community from Extreme Heat 
Action 74: Protect Your Air 
Action 75: Prepare for More Pests 
Action 76: Address Your Mental Health and Anxiety 
Action 77: Express Yourself Creatively 
Action 78: Buy Beauty Products Responsibly 
Action 79: Change Your Fitness Pattern and Habits 
Action 80: Cherish Your Winter Recreation 
Action 81: Pay the Appropriate Fees for Outdoor Recreation 

Civic and Community Engagement

Action 82: Vote in Every Election 
Action 83: Engage Your Elected Officials 
Action 84: Champion Climate Planning in Your Community 
Action 85: Contribute to a Local Community Groups and Organizations 
Action 86: Support Youth Climate Activism 
Action 87: Share Your Observations and Experiences 
Action 88: Role-Play Climate Solutions 

Education and Climate Information

Action 89: Act on Behalf of Your Children’s Future 
Action 90: Seek Climate Solutions for School Buses and Buildings 
Action 91: Teach Climate Change in the Classroom 
Action 92: Talk Climate with Our Kids 
Action 93: Be a Savvy Consumer of Information 
Action 94: Track the State of the Science 
Action 95: Look to Local Climate Science Leaders 
Action 96: Look to Local Community Climate Leaders 
Action 97: Talk About Climate Issues with Friends and Family 
Action 98: Get Social on Social Media 
Action 99: Embrace Your Inner Bookworm 
Action 100: Celebrate Success and Express Gratitude 
 
Conclusion: Continuing Your Climate Action Journey

Excerpt

Preface
In 2015, 196 countries endorsed the Paris Agreement, committing to the goal of limiting global temperature rise to “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) and “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C” (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels (the mid- to late-1800s is commonly used as a reference point for pre-industrial conditions and is a baseline against which current temperatures are compared). If the rate of current warming continues, global average warming is likely to reach the 1.5°C target between 2030 and 2052--within the lifetime of most people alive today. With every increment of additional warming, the costs and challenges of climate impacts increase. The next decade is pivotal for climate action and for global society. What we choose to do--or not do--over the next several years will shape our collective climate-changed future for generations.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C can be achieved only if action is taken to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by around 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and to net zero by 2050. Net zero means that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) being produced is matched by the amount being removed, by activities that take it out of the atmosphere, like planting trees, and deploying technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

This all requires societal transformation and rapid implementation of ambitious greenhouse gas reduction measures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for evaluating the science related to climate change, makes it clear that no single sector, action, or fuel type can provide the needed emission reductions to reach these targets. Limiting warming to 1.5°C will require largely phasing out coal use by midcentury, reducing CO2 emissions from industry by 75 to 90 percent by 2050 (relative to 2010), supplying most electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and significantly enhancing energy efficiency across all sectors, including in commercial buildings and homes.

Much of this work is underway, but reaching these goals means we must accelerate the pace and scale of our global climate work over the next 10 to 20 years. And while there is no question that this type of transformative change will require large-scale systemic changes, each and every one of us can show up in the conversations and actions needed to help meet these ambitious goals. Something you care about is at risk from climate change. We each need to learn about the local and global consequences of these changes and find ways, large and small, to engage in solutions.

This book is an attempt to outline just a few of the myriad ways that individuals from all walks of life and perspectives can better understand what climate change will mean for the things they care about, as well as to outline ways we can show up. This book represents a passion project meeting a practical need. I, too, wanted to know where there were opportunities for me to learn, engage, and act. I wanted to help to answer the question I hear daily: What can I do to help address climate change?

The climate actions presented here are an attempt to help paint a picture of the breadth, depth, and opportunity that abounds in the space of climate change solutions. Importantly, not all climate actions captured here are directly associated with emissions reductions; climate solutions aren’t only an emissions-related numbers game, and not all actions are easily quantifiable. This book intentionally doesn’t use a hierarchy or quantification of what actions are “best” or have the biggest ‘impact.” Other resources, like Project Drawdown, an award-winning climate nonprofit, paint a sophisticated, data-driven picture of climate solutions at scale. Some of those same solutions are here in this book, but so are actions like being a savvy consumer of climate information, becoming civically engaged, and participating in climate conversations. Some actions are costly; some are free. Some are time-intensive; some require a little forethought or reflection. All have value and represent some form of impact whether that is environmental, social or at the individual or collective scale.

Ultimately, the sections in this book are bite-size pieces to help us get our arms around a big, beautifully complex challenge. For each fact or statistic in this book, there were dozens more that weren’t able to fit. Each action or idea offers an entry point into a topic that might be of particular interest to you. Some might inspire you to think (and act!) in a different way. Others might just provide you with more knowledge around the impacts and consequences of climate change. There is a wealth of information available and numerous nuances for each topic. Each one could easily have become a book in its own right.

And this amount of information is growing every day as concern grows and solutions are developed or scaled. The data sources, in fact, seem infinite, and the calculus, facts, and figures are ever-evolving and changing. Even over the time it took to write this book, new research, poll results, and climate commitments were made. This will continue. I choose to see this as a sign that the climate change landscape is shifting and evolving to meet the challenge of the moment, with new interest and investments being made to work toward climate change. We are living through in a dynamic moment that will surely make it into history books.

Facts and figures don’t necessarily change hearts and minds, but people doing things can. And many of the people I interact with, from all different walks of life, are seeking more information to inform their unique climate solutions journey. They are often looking for more information about specific actions to inform themselves, but also to share in conversations with their family members, friends, and coworkers, and in their communities.

Let’s be clear, climate change will bring environmental, social, and cultural change. Our past emissions of greenhouse gases have committed us to change, but we still get to choose how much change we experience, and what kind. Human-caused climate change is already causing people to experience loss of property, loss of culture and identity, and loss of livelihoods. But embedded within many climate solutions are opportunities--opportunities to create a healthier, brighter future. Climate actions can create near-instantaneous improvements in air quality and can offer ways to address societal inequities, green our communities, save money, build local economies and jobs, and help develop or deepen relationships.

My hope is that something in the pages that follow will empower you to evaluate, engage, and act. How we engage and what we do may change day-to-day, month to month, or year to year, but what matters is that we do act and that we build and maintain momentum. We can do that by each doing some of the work as individuals and work with others to advocate for the systems-based changes we know are needed to decarbonize the world and build climate-ready communities. Together, we can help shape and create the future we want through actions big and small. At the end of the day, every action really can matter. We just have to act.


Action 15: Fly Less, Fly Economy
Commercial and freight aviation produces an estimated 2.5 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions and 1.9 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. However, aviation’s impact on the warming of the planet is higher, at around 3.5 percent, due to a complex set of factors including the production of water vapor, soot and sulfate aerosols, and increased cloudiness that are created by the formation of contrails. While these numbers may seem small, between 2013 and 2018, aviation-based emissions increased by 32 percent, with an increase of around 5 percent in global aviation-based CO2 emissions each year between 2010 and 2020.Aviation emissions, including all of the greenhouse gases emitted by airplanes, have doubled since the mid-1980s.

Despite growing global demand for flying today, commercial aviation emissions are produced by a tiny fraction of the world’s population, with only 11 percent traveling by air in 2018 and just 1 percent responsible for 50 percent of the CO2 emissions from commercial aviation. In 2018, the United States had a reported 590 million domestic air passengers, and North America accounted for just over 25 percent of total global air transportation.

Even while there are new commitments from the aviation industry to expand the use of more sustainable fuels and create zero-emissions aircraft, those technologies are not yet proven at scale and are still a ways off. So, for those of us who fly, flying less is an important climate act. In fact, flying can represent a disproportionate part of an individual’s own carbon footprint, as mile for mile, flying is one of the most emissions-intensive activities many of us engage in. And flying in the front of the aircraft in premium classes results in an impact about three times worse--these seats are larger and mean fewer passengers who can share the total emissions produced during a given trip. If your work has traditionally required travel, an increasing number of options are available to limit it, such as virtual and hybrid meetings or conferences. For a more detailed look at the role of business and conference travel, check out Action 19.

How can you minimize your air travel, and will you choose to sit in coach?


Action 48: Keep Your Devices Longer and Dispose of Them Properly
Open that junk drawer, closet, or favorite hiding spot for your old phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. Did you know that both the devices collecting dust and the ones we are actively using come with a real climate impact? It isn’t just the devices themselves--every text, email, funny meme, or online purchase we make requires a server and data center, which are incredibly energy-intensive.

Smartphones have a surprising impact too. One study calculated the emissions from smartphone manufacturing and use at 125 megatons CO2e, with around 85-95 percent of these emissions produced during manufacturing. When we look at the full life cycle of a smartphone--from mining and manufacturing the 60 different elements in the phone to how it is disposed of at the end of its life--it adds up. In fact, the amount of waste produced in the European Union from manufacturing new electronics was five times greater than the amount of e-waste created by EU consumers disposing of their old electronics.

All of this waste is problematic, whether in the manufacturing or end-of-life stage. For example, electronic waste, a.k.a. e-waste--which refers to products at the end of their “useful life--is a growing problem. It has been called a national security risk, is bad for our health, has real financial costs, is rarely properly recycled (leading to the loss of critical resources), and can be a real environmental justice issue. Globally, 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was created in 2019, with an estimated $57 billion of reusable, high-value materials like gold, copper, and platinum being tossed or burned as a result of poor practices by consumers and corporations.

What can we do? Keep your electronic devices as long as possible, and avoid the urge to upgrade your phone every time a new version is available. Rather than replacing our phones every two years, keeping these devices (that require phenomenal resources to create) will help limit our impact. And when you need to get a new phone, tablet, computer, or monitor, please properly recycle your old devices. Today, 99 percent of smartphones are not recycled. On a bigger scale, we also need to encourage policies and companies to get our data centers running on renewable energy.

Will you commit to keeping your devices as long as possible and creating less e-waste?

Praise

“What can I do, personally, about the climate crisis? [Readers] often ask us a version of this question....[Roop] says that civic engagement is one of the most effective ways for individuals to make a difference and to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis....Ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Using this passion may motivate you to help shape the future of your community.”
The New York Times Climate Forward newsletter

"[The Climate Action Handbook] provides lots of ideas—like eating more plant-based meals, choosing slower shipping for deliveries, voting in every election, and supporting youth climate activists. ... The ideas are accompanied by striking illustrations that help readers understand what they can do and why it makes a difference."
—Yale Climate Connections

" . . . filled with 100 ideas to help people lower their carbon footprint and learn how to prepare for the climate changes that have already happened. . . . There's a chapter on changes to make in your home, such as LED light bulbs, lowering your water heater temperature and fixing the insulation to ensure heat doesn't escape."
—CBS News Minnesota

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