It will take effort by all of us to achieve a future with clean energy and clean transportation. Some of the policies, technologies, and actions that can help are described below. As we move to a more sustainable society, we’ll need big thinkers, inventors, researchers, and policymakers to develop solutions. Will you be one of them?
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Our first step is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. We need to use more clean energy – and use that energy more efficiently — to power everything from our cell phones to our homes, offices, and factories. We need to drive cars and trucks that use less gasoline or run on electricity or other alternative fuels. Everyone can play a part, including students and teachers.
Our “carbon footprint” comes from our energy use at home, at work, and on the go. Tools like Berkeley’s Cool Climate calculator and the Carbon Footprint calculator help us figure out our impact and see how it compares to others in our community. Learn more about what you can do to make an impact on climate change.
Solving climate change will take action by society – including local, state, and national governments – in the areas of electricity, building, transportation, land use, and industry.
Twenty-nine percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from generating electricity. Most of the electricity is used in our homes, offices, and factories to power everything from heating and cooling systems to lights, computers, refrigerators, and cell phones.
Some ways electricity emissions can be reduced include:
- Renewable Energy: Renewable energy harnesses the power of the wind, sun, water, tides and other planetary resources (like geothermal heat, which comes from the Earth’s core) to produce electric power. Agricultural “biomass” products also can be used to generate electricity and heat when combusted with coal. Renewables generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases—or producing very little when compared to traditional energy sources.
- Did you know? Over half the states in the country have rules that require a certain amount of energy come from renewable sources. Check out this map to find renewable portfolio standards in your state.
- Learn more about renewables.
- Nuclear Power: Nuclear power provides roughly 20 percent of U.S. electricity with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, for nuclear power to play more of a role, the industry needs to overcome high costs and concerns about nuclear waste disposal.
- Learn more about nuclear power.
- Carbon Capture and Storage: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technology that captures carbon dioxide emissions from factories and power plants and stores them underground. CCS technologies can capture up to 90 percent of carbon emissions from a facility.
- Almost a dozen commercial-scale carbon capture projects are operating around the world with 22 more in development.
- Learn more about carbon capture.