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What can the average individual do to help combat climate change? Can it be an individual effort, or is this really the responsibility of corporations and governments to resolve?

  • Participation by individuals is key to ultimately curbing global climate change.
  • The following are examples of effective, yet simple activities: reducing energy use at home by purchasing energy efficient home appliances; planting trees to absorb carbon from the atmosphere; walking or taking public transportation instead of driving; making smart consumer choices by purchasing environmentally sound products and energy-efficient vehicles; and practicing waste minimization, product reuse, and recycling.

How are we going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with an increased consumer demand for power?

  • First, not all GHG emissions are CO2 emissions, and not all CO2 emissions are from power use. So you can reduce GHG emissions in other sectors like agriculture, forestry, and waste management without even addressing power. In addition, expanding the production of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency are ways to meet consumer demands for power without increasing CO2 emissions.

What are states doing to address climate change?

  • States have shown a great deal of interest in mitigating climate change. They have found that activities that reduce GHG emissions also have other benefits such as curbing pollution, reducing traffic, and generally improving the local quality of life.
  • States have conducted GHG inventories and initiated state action plans that identify and implement policies to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Other state initiative include providing loans and tax incentives to encourage energy efficiency, investing in carbon sequestration research and public transportation, establishing registries for businesses to report their GHG emissions reductions, and providing venues for trading emissions credits.
  • For more information on state action, visit our database of state case studies or read our report.

Over the past several years, how much has the development of clean coal technology reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the US? Do you see a real potential for its use?

  • Clean coal technology is a generic term for a set of technologies that reduce harmful emissions from coal burning. Some of these technologies reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but some only address other air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide. Thus far clean coal technology has made a greater impact on these other pollutants, but there are promising technologies that would reduce GHG emissions from coal burning, or would capture and sequester CO2 emissions from coal burning. To the extent we continue to use coal, it is important to take advantage of these technologies.

What role, if any, can renewable energy play in CO2 reduction?

  • Renewable energy plays a small role now, but it is expected to play an increasingly important role over time. Wind and biomass energy are already cost-competitive with other forms of electric generation in some instances. Great technological strides have been made recently in hydrogen-powered fuel cells. There is enormous potential for solar energy and hydrogen to power our homes and cars in the future.
  • Several states have adopted renewable portfolio standards that require an increasing role for renewables as sources of electric power.

Because transportation accounts for a significant of greenhouse gas emissions internationally, how do you propose we reduce emissions in this sector? What do you think the technologies of the future may be?

  • Some technologies that will reduce emissions are already here, such as hybrid-electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius.
  • There have been exciting breakthroughs in hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Both fuel cells and biofuels are potential options for the future.
  • In the United States, it is likely that alternative and replacement fuels along with vehicle efficiency improvements will be the focus of a transportation emission mitigation strategy, rather than reducing driving. However, policies such as better traffic management, better urban design, and promotion of telecommuting might achieve multiple benefits, including GHG emission reductions.

    Report: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation
    In Brief: Taking Climate Change into Account in U.S. Transportation

Can we really live without fossil fuels, and what are the alternatives?

  • Yes, we can move away from fossil fuels, but not overnight. Our economy is currently dependent on fossil fuels, but it is not necessary that it remain dependent on them. Over time, with innovation, market incentives, and the right policies, we can transition to different fuels, different infrastructure, higher efficiency, and different technologies.
  • We need to concentrate on the development of alternative energy sources such as wind energy and solar power. Technological innovation in energy efficiency is also important.

How will workers be affected as climate change policies are implemented? And how can the adverse impacts be reduced?

  • While it is important to recognize that the costs of addressing climate change are likely to fall disproportionately on certain industries, communities, and workers, the design and implementation of effective government programs can greatly assist workers adversely affected by climate change policies.
  • Programs may include substantial retraining and education for laid-off workers, advance notice of layoffs when possible, substantial income support for program participants, and maintenance of laid-off workers' health and pension benefits until they find suitable employment.

    Report: Community Adjustment to Climate Change Policy
    Report: Worker Transition: Global Climate Change