Workshop: Assessing the Benefits of Avoided Climate Change

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
March 16-17, 2009

The U.S. government is considering a range of near-term actions to address the risks of climate change. The Obama administration and key members of Congress intend to make climate legislation a top priority this year. The earliest action, however, may come from federal agencies being pressured by the courts and states to consider limiting CO2 emissions under existing legislative authority. A key element of federal rulemaking is assessing the costs and benefits of proposed policies. While the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions have received much attention from analysts and policymakers, far less attention has been directed at quantifying the benefits of such reductions. In spite of remaining uncertainties, the analytical community should offer practical guidance for informing near-term decisions. Drawing from the environmental economics, impacts, vulnerability, and risk assessment communities, this workshop considers what useful insights can be gleaned now about quantifying the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The workshop’s objectives are to develop a set of practical recommendations that decision makers can employ in the near-term and to outline a research path to improve decision making tools over time.

PDF version of Agenda

List of Participants 

Speaker Bios


Symposium – Assessing the benefits of avoided climate change in government decision making

Opening Remarks
Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Video:  WMV     PDF

Keynote Address
Dina Kruger, Director, Climate Change Division, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. EPA

Panel 1: Perspectives on Government Decision Making for Climate Change
Moderator: Steve Seidel, Vice President for Policy Analysis, Pew Center

  • Martha Roberts, EDF: Incorporating the benefits of climate protection into federal rulemaking
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Christopher Pyke, CTG Energetics: A proposal to consider global warming under NEPA
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • James Lester/Joel Smith, Stratus Consulting: Case studies on government decisions to limit greenhouse gas emissions – California, Australia, United Kingdom
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Paul Watkiss, Paul Watkiss Associates: Social cost of carbon estimates and their use in UK policy
    Video:  WMV     Slides

Panel 2: Challenges to Quantifying Damages from Climate Change
Moderator: Jeremy Richardson, Senior Fellow for Science Policy, Pew Center

  • Mike MacCracken, Climate Institute: Overview of challenges to quantifying impacts
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Kristie Ebi, ESS, LLC: Social vulnerability and risk
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Tony Janetos, Joint Global Change Research Institute: Ecosystems and species
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Jon O’Riordan, University of British Columbia: Valuation of natural capital
    Video:  WMV     Slides

Lunch Speaker

Gary Yohe, Wesleyan University: The long view: developing a new decision making framework based on the IPCC’s ‘iterative risk management’ paradigm
Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper


Panel 3: The Role of Uncertainty in Assessing the Benefits of Climate Policy
Moderator: Jay Gulledge, Senior Scientist/Science & Impacts Program Manager, Pew Center

  • Brian O’Neill, NCAR: Uncertainty and learning – implications for climate policy
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Joel Smith, Stratus Consulting: Dangerous climate change: an update of the IPCC reasons for concern
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Michael Mastrandrea, Stanford University: Assessing damages with integrated assessment models
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Chris Hope, University of Cambridge: Social cost of carbon and optimal timing of emissions reductions under uncertainty
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper


Panel 4: Advances in the Economic Analysis of the Benefits of Climate Policy
Moderator: Liwayway Adkins, Senior Fellow, Economics, Pew Center

  • Steve Rose, EPRI: Federal decision making on the uncertain impacts of climate change: Working with What You Have
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • Richard Howarth, E3 Network: The need for a fresh approach to climate change economics
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper
  • David Anthoff, ESRI: National decision making on climate change and international equity weights
    Video:  WMV     Slides
  • Steve Newbold, U.S. EPA: Climate response uncertainty and the expected benefits of GHG emissions reductions
    Video:  WMV     Slides     Paper


Click here for more information about the workshop, including expert reports and proceedings.

IPCC "Reasons for Concern"

New Guidance on Dangerous Climate Change: IPCC “Reasons for Concern” 

New data and a better understanding of vulnerability lead scientists to estimate greater damages from climate change impacts.
To provide insight into what impacts of climate change might be considered dangerous human interference with the climate system, authors of the 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified five different categories of impacts they judged to be of special concern with regard to potential danger to society and/or nature. The relationship between impacts for the “reasons for concern” (RFCs) and increases in global mean temperature (GMT) were portrayed in what has come to be called the “burning embers diagram” (see figure below). The five RFCs are:

• Risk to unique and threatened systems (e.g., coral reefs, tropical mountain glaciers, endangered species, etc.)

• Risk of extreme weather events (e.g., heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes)

• Disparities of impacts and vulnerabilities (e.g., disproportionate harm to developing countries and the poor in developed countries)

• Aggregate damages (i.e. net global market damages)

• Risks of large-scale discontinuities (e.g., rapid sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and strong amplifiers of warming)


In a peer-reviewed paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, authors of the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment report have revised the sensitivities of the RFCs to increases in global average temperature based on a more thorough understanding of the concept of vulnerability that has evolved over the past decade. Compared to results reported in 2001, smaller increases in global average temperature are now estimated to lead to significant or substantial consequences for the five RFCs (see figure). These results indicate that the risks of climate change may have been underestimated in the past.

Read the article.



Source:  Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ‘‘reasons for concern’’ (February 2009)


Media Coverage of the Economics of Climate Policy: A Discussion Paper

How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics  of Climate Change 
Discussion Paper

By Eric Pooley 
Kalb Fellow, Shorenstein Center, Fall 2008 
Contributor at Time Magazine 

Read the paper.

Eric Pooley, a former Fortune managing editor and Time chief political correspondent, recently published a discussion paper that examines media coverage of the federal climate policy debate.

In his paper, Pooley explores the question: "How is the press doing on the climate solutions story?” Specifically, his paper examines media coverage of climate change with a focus on reporting of the economic debate over the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008. Pooley argues that news organizations should devote greater attention to the climate policy story, and reporters must help fulfill a glaring need for public education about climate change with good explanatory journalism. He argues that there is an emerging consensus among economists that well-designed climate policy would not derail the U.S. economy, and that journalists have failed to report this consensus and have given undue attention to “doomsday forecasts” produced by opponents of climate action.

"This is the great political test, and the great story, of our time," writes Pooley. "But news organizations have not been treating it that way." He goes on to add, “It is time for editors to treat climate policy as a permanent, important beat: tracking a mobilization for the moral equivalent of war.”

The paper emphasizes the enormous complexities of the issue, and Pooley challenges reporters to devote the time required to grasp and explain them to readers in a straight, understandable way.

Pooley’s analysis is based on 40 print articles that examined the cost debate published between December 2007 and June 2008 in national and regional newspapers, wire services, and news magazines. Twenty-four stories are identified as works of journalistic stenography – or he said/she said pieces – and seven are one-sided articles. Pooley finds nine articles that attempt to explain the arguments and offer conclusions “with varying degrees of success.”

“It falls to the press to be an honest broker in this debate – sympathetic to the idea that change must come, yet rigorous in its analysis of competing claims,” he writes.

Pooley argues that reporters too often played the role of stenographer, presenting the give and take of the debate without questioning an argument’s validity. Instead of being stenographers, Pooley challenges journalists to act as referees of the climate debate, “keeping both sides honest by calling fouls and failures to play by the rules.” Playing referee carries greater responsibilities and requires more time and work to grapple with complex issues and present them in an understandable and compelling way. But the details of climate policy are greatly important, notes Pooley, and reporters who operate as honest referees serve a critical role in the debate.



Climate Change 101 series

To inform the climate change dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has produced a series of brief reports entitled Climate Change 101: Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change, Updated January 2011.

These reports provide a reliable and understandable introduction to climate change. They cover climate science and impacts, climate adaptation, technological solutions, business solutions, international action, federal action, recent action in the U.S. states, and action taken by local governments. The overview serves as a summary and introduction to the series.

Read the entire series or jump to a single report:
OverviewScience and ImpactsAdaptationTechnologyBusiness International FederalStateLocal • Cap and Trade

For more information, be sure to listen to our Climate Change 101 podcast series


Complete101Climate Change 101: Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change

The complete set of six reports plus the overview in one volume.




OverviewClimate Change 101: Overview

This overview summarizes the key points from each of the Climate Change 101 reports.




Climate Change 101 The Science and ImpactsClimate Change 101: Science and Impacts

This report provides an overview of the most up-to-date scientific evidence and also explains the causes and projected impacts of climate change.




Adaptation 101 Climate Change 101: Adaptation

This report details how adaptation planning at the local, state and national levels can limit the damage caused by climate change.




TechnologyClimate Change 101: Technological Solutions

This piece discusses the technological solutions both for mitigating its effects and reducing greenhouse gas emissions now and into the future.




Business SolutionsClimate Change 101: Business Solutions

This report discusses how corporate leaders are helping to shape solutions.




InternationalClimate Change 101: International Action

This report discusses what will be needed for an effective global effort, one calling for commitments from all the world's major economies.




Federal ActionClimate Change 101: Federal Action

This report discusses federal policy options that can put the country on the path toward a lower-carbon future.




State ActionClimate Change 101: State Action

This report highlights states' efforts as they respond to the challenges of implementing solutions to climate change.



Local Action Climate Change 101: Local Action

This report describes the actions taken by cities and towns.




Cap and trade 101Climate Change 101: Cap and Trade

This report explains the details of cap and trade.



The Earth’s climate is rapidly changing. In the United States and other nations, people are seeing how the impacts of rising global temperatures affect their communities, their livelihoods, and the natural environment. Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. But mitigation alone is not enough. Even with emission reductions, some warming will still occur. Adaptation planning at the local, state, and national levels can limit the damage caused by climate change, as well as the long-term costs of responding to climate-related impacts that are expected to grow in number and intensity in the decades to come.

To learn more about adaptation, read Climate Change 101: Adaptation and check out the additional resources below. 

U.S. Federal Adaptation Resources:

U.S. States & Regions Adaptation Resources:

Markets & Business Adaptation Resources:

International Adaptation Resources:

Climate Change Risks in the Context of Scientific Uncertainty

Full Article available for download (PDF)

by Jay Gulledge, Senior Scientist and Program Manager for Science and Impacts— Appeared in The Global Politics of Energy, a book published by The Aspen Institute, May 2008

Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference 2008

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

Scientific Uncertainty and Climate Change Risks
Keynote Address by Pew Center Senior Scientist Dr. Jay Gulledge
2nd Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference
April 16, 2008 - Madison, Wisconsin
Click here to view the presentation.

Pew Center Senior Scientist Dr. Jay Gulledge discusses environmental risks of climate change in his keynote address to the 2nd Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference. In his remarks, Dr. Gulledge explains that despite uncertainty, scientists can be highly confident in their findings about global warming. For example, data show the rise in global surface temperature and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the past 50 years. It is the confident conclusion of the scientific community at large that the greenhouse gases generated by human activity are driving this warming trend.

The conference, entitled Sustaining Wisconsin's Environment & Economy: Responding to Climate Change, promotes greater understanding of greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change impacts and adaptation. Dr. Gulledge also shares insights from a recently published Pew Center report, Regional Impacts of Climate Change, which addresses current and expected environmental effects and likely adaptation measures required in four U.S. regions.


Tips on Curbing Your Carbon Footprint

This page provides a number of tips and suggestions for how to reduce your individual greenhouse gas emissions. Click on one of the categories below to find out more or click here to download a printable pdf version.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint:


At Home

Heat & Cool Your Home Efficiently

  • Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summerProgrammable Thermostat
    Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. Each degree you are able to raise the thermostat, you save 3-5% on air conditioning costs.You could save about 2,000 pounds of CO2 a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.
  • Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
    Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Install a programmable thermostat
    Programmable thermostats will automatically adjust the heat or air conditioning at night and readjust it in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
  • Cool with air movement and ventilation
    Unless you live in a very humid climate, ceiling and house fans can be adequate replacements for air conditioning.


Make Minor Home Improvements

  • Make simple adjustmentsSolar panels
    Keep doors and windows closed when the air is on.  Use shades and drapes to keep the hot sun out.
  • Replace your old single-glazed windows with double-glazing
    This requires an upfront investment but will halve the energy lost through windows and pay off in the long term. If you go for the best the market has to offer (wooden-framed double-glazed units with low-emission glass and filled with argon gas), you can even save more than 70% of the energy lost.
  • Get a home energy audit
    Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist. Or do it yourself by following the DOE's guidelines
  • Insulate and weatherize your home
    Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year.
  • Clean your heating and cooling system where it delivers the goods
    Dust on the registers in a forced-air system can cut its efficiency by 10% or more. The same goes for dust on baseboard heaters and radiators. Vacuum these parts of your heating system regularly using a brush nozzle. Unscrew registers from walls and vacuum accessible surfaces inside the ducts. Use a flexible hose rather than a metal or plastic wand, and fasten the brush securely to the hose with duct tape.
  • Keep humidity under control
    Because relative humidity affects comfort, tailoring the humidity in your house to the season reduces the use of energy for heating and cooling. For most people, a relative humidity of around 60 percent in winter permits a thermostat setting for heat that would be too low in drier air. In summer, a relative humidity of around 40 percent allows a thermostat setting for air conditioning that would be uncomfortably high in humid air.
    Both air conditioners and furnaces dry the air in your house. In summer, that’s usually all right, but in winter and during summers in desert-like climates, the air often becomes too dry. The solution is to install a humidifier at the furnace or to purchase a stand-alone unit. If the air in your house is uncomfortably damp despite heating and air conditioning, consider buying a dehumidifier to pull additional moisture from the air.
  • Keep your attic cool
    Attic radiant barriers made of reflective foil block the transfer of radiant heat from a hot roof into the attic.  Reducing the transfer of this heat while improving the ventilation in your attic can lower the temperature of the entire house. More information at the U.S. Green Building Council.  
  • Take the extra step: Switch to green power
    In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out the options available in your area.

Choose & Use Appliances Wisely

  • Look for ENERGY STAR qualified productsAppliances
    When buying new products, such as appliances for your home, get the features and performance you want AND help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products in more than 50 product categories, including lighting, home electronics, heating and cooling equipment and appliances.
  • Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
    Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them
    Even when turned off, things like hair dryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!
    In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Avoid wasting energy by unplugging appliances when not in use or make things easier on yourself by simply using a power strip and turning off the switch on the strip to cut all power to the appliances.
  • Refrigerator and Freezer Care
    The refrigerator or freezer uses more energy if it is located next to hotter equipment or appliances like the cooker or boiler. For example, if the fridge or freezer is located in a hot cellar room where the temperature is about 88ºF, energy use is almost double and causes an extra 160kg of CO2 emissions for fridges per year and 320kg for freezers.

    Check the temperature
    Recommended temperatures are 37 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment of the fridge and 5 degrees for the freezer.

    Regularly defrost manual-defrost fridges and freezers
    Frost buildup decreases energy efficiency.

    Cover liquids and foods
    Uncovered items release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Use the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are full
    If you need to use it when it is half full, then use the half-load or economy setting. There is also no need to set the temperatures high. Nowadays detergents are so efficient that they get your clothes and dishes clean at low temperatures.
  • Wash clothes in cooler water 
    About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water.  Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.   Learn more at American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
  • Consider replacing your toilet
    Newer toilets use less than 1.3 gallons per flush compared to models from before 1992 that use 3.5 gallons a flush.  Additionally, a leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day.  Learn more about WaterSense-labeled toilets and products. 
  • Fix leaky faucets
    Faucets that drip at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year.  Learn more at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Reduce hot water use
    By fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, and only washing a full-load of clothes or dishes, you can drastically reduce your energy consumption.  Water heating is the second-largest energy expense in U.S. households behind space heating and cooling.  Learn more at the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Cook with a microwave 
    Fast and efficient microwaves use around 50-65% less energy than conventional ovens and won’t heat up your entire kitchen.  Learn more at the California Energy Commission.

Light Your Home Efficiently

  • Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL)Lighting
    CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds!
  • Dust your light bulbs regularly
    Clean bulbs give off 50% more light than dirty ones, giving you all the light you’re paying for. If that turns out to be more light than you need, try a smaller bulb.
  • Use 4-watt minifluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights
    Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts and the luminescent lights are cool to the touch.  Learn more at the U.S. Department of Energy.

At the Store


  • Reuse your shopping bagIn the Store
    When shopping, it saves energy and reduces waste to use a reusable bag instead of accepting a disposable one in each shop. Waste not only sends greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, it can also pollute the air, groundwater and soil.
  • Consider buying organic foods
    Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
  • Avoid heavily packaged products
    You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.
  • Eat less meat
    Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
  • Buy locally grown and produced foods
    The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally can save fuel and keep money in your community.
  • Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
    Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
  • Skip the cleaning aisle
    You can clean up most messes with just a few items from your pantry: baking soda, white vinegar, liquid soap and borax can be combined in ways to tackle most household messes. Learn more at Planet Green.
  • Buy recycled paper products
    It takes 70% to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.

On the Move

  • Drive smartOn the Move
    Many factors affect the fuel economy of your car. To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce time spent idling, and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack that you are not using, take it off to improve your fuel economy by as much as 5%. Use overdrive and cruise control on your car if you have those features. For more tips to improve your gas mileage, visit the Fuel Economy Guide website.
  • Tune your ride
    A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer! Keep your car well tuned, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and use the recommended grade of motor oil. Also check and replace your vehicle’s air filter regularly. For more details, including potential savings from these actions, visit the Fuel Economy Guide website.
  • Check your tires
    Check your tire pressure regularly. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to 3 percent, and leads to increased emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to the glove compartment or on the driver's-side door pillar. More details are available on the Fuel Economy Guide website.
  • Give your car a break
    Use public transportation, carpool or walk or bike whenever possible to avoid using your car. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. Whenever possible, combine activities and errands into one trip. For daily commuting, consider options like telecommuting (working from home via phone or over the Internet) that can reduce the stress of commuting, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save you money.
  • Consider Your Air Travel Impact
    Because of the long distances involved, even a modest amount of flying will release a substantial amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. The level of GHGs emitted by a particular flight however, is based on a complex variety of factors including flight length, cruising altitude, and type of aircraft. Generally speaking, large aircraft are more fuel efficient than regional or turboprop planes, both because of engine efficiency and because they transport more people per vehicle. Additionally, the longer the flight, the lower the per-mile intensity since aircraft engines reach their optimal performance at a cruising speed at higher elevations. Frequent take off and landings have a negative effect on aircraft fuel economy because of the added fuel necessary to accelerate to take off speed. Super-long haul flights, however, begin to lose the benefits of higher engine efficiency because of the added fuel that must be carried.
  • Offset Your Air Travel
    To solve the problem of climate change, we all need to consider our personal carbon emissions from driving, flying, or even turning on our computers, and we need to make continuous effort to reduce these emissions wherever possible. However, it is impossible to reduce our carbon emissions to zero no matter how hard we try. For this reason, many have taken the additional action of buying greenhouse gas offsets. When you buy offsets, you essentially pay someone to reduce or remove greenhouse gases for you.

    All offsets being sold in this new (and voluntary) environmental market, however, are not of equal quality. It is really up to the buyer to ensure that what they are buying does have an additional environmental benefit.  A few questions to ask yourself when considering the purchase of offsets – 1) Do you know the type of project that has created your offset?  2) Is your project directly resulting in GHG reductions?  3) Has your offset been verified/validated by a third party? 4) Are the offsets from existing projects or projects planned in the future (if so, how long in the future)?  4) Is there some proof that your offset has not been sold to multiple buyers?  5) Is the seller transparent so that you can answer the previous questions? Clean Air-Cool Planet has published a guide to retail carbon offset providers, and an initiative at Tufts University provides information about voluntary carbon offsets.

In the Garden


  • Shade windows and walls from the summer sunIn the Garden
    Trees planted to shade the southern and western windows are effective barriers to light in the hot summer sun. Not only do trees block direct sunlight, but water evaporating from trees helps cool surrounding air. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, trees that shade the south and southwest sides of a house can cut between $100 and $250 annually from air-conditioning costs. If your property has little shade, planting the right trees in the right places offers long-term benefits. The height, growth rate, regional adaptability, branch spread, and shape of different tree varieties are all factors to consider in choosing the most beneficial trees.
  • Be green in your yard
    Use a push mower, which, unlike a gas or electric mower, consumes no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. If you do use a power mower, make sure it is a mulching mower to reduce grass clippings. Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage sent to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. See EPA’s GreenScapes program for tips on how to improve your lawn or garden while also benefiting the environment. Smart landscaping can save energy, save you money, and reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Plant a tree
    A single tree will absorb about one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10% to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information about planting trees.
  • Mulch
    Use mulch to help moderate soil temperature and retain moisture during dry weather, reducing the need for watering.  Learn more at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Plan your garden wisely
    Choose plants that are low-maintenance and require less water and fewer pesticides.  Visit the Regional Water Providers Consortium to learn more.
  • Reduce the size of your lawn
    Lawns use 2-3 times as much water as other plants and can result in 50% more water waste from evaporation, runoff, over spray and over watering.  Learn more at Regional Water Providers Consortium.
  • Green your grill
    A charcoal grill gives off twice the amount of CO2 as a gas grill. If you must use a charcoal grill, buy charcoal made from sustainable sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Learn more at Climate Change Central.

At the Curb


  • Recycle at home At the Curb
    You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources in your area.
  • Reduce waste
    Most products we buy cause greenhouse gas emissions in one or another way, such as during production and distribution. By taking your lunch in a reusable lunch box instead of a disposable one, you save the energy needed to produce new lunch boxes.
  • Reduce junk mail
    Call toll-free numbers and ask to be removed from mailing lists.  Pay bills and get statements online.
  • Reuse everyday items
    Reusing is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed.  Use cloth napkins, durable coffee mugs and bottles, rechargeable batteries, and refillable pens and pencils.  Learn more at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

With Your Voice

In addition to the actions you can take in your home and on the road, engaging in public decision-making is an important way to combat global climate change. Every day, on the local, state, and national levels, decisions are being made that can have a positive effect on combating climate change.

Learn what your local and national representatives are doing about global warming and let them know the issue is important to you. You can contact your national legislators at the House of Representatives and Senate.


Additional Resources

Visit these sites to learn more about your impact on global climate change and what you can do to reduce it:

Global Anthropogenic GHG Emissions by Gas

CO2 accounts for about 77 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Methane primarily from agriculture, contributes 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and nitrous oxide, mostly from industry and agriculture contributes 7 percent to global emissions.

Note: All figures here are expressed in CO2-equivalents.

Source: Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, World Resources Institute


Global Anthropogenic GHG Emissions by Sector

Globally, the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions are electricity and heat (28%), agriculture (14%), transportation (12%), forestry (12%) and manufacturing (12%). Energy production of all types accounts for 65 percent of all emissions.

Source: Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, World Resources Institute


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