What Can I Do About Climate Change?

Be a part of the movement. Please join me at the Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice global day of action this September 8th. You can find an event near you at riseforclimate.org.

People ask me all the time: 'what can do to fight climate change?' And it's a great question, because the problem seems so big, and we seem so small, that it's hard to imagine there's anything we could do.

For years, environmental groups focused on individual actions: new light bulbs, different kinds of cars. Those sort of changes are useful: the roof of my house is covered with solar panels, and I can plug my car into them. 

I'm glad about that--it's environmentally sound, and it saves me money. But I try not to fool myself into thinking that's really how we'll solve global warming. Because by this point, with the ice caps melting, we can't make the math of climate change work one person at a time.

Instead, the biggest thing an individual can do is become...a little less of an individual.  

Join together with others to form the kind of movements that can push for changes big enough to matter. Those changes fall into three broad categories.

100% Renewable Energy

One is to push for 100% renewable energy in every town and city--and it's a push that's really working. Diverse cities from Atlanta to San Diego, from Salt Lake City to Portland, have all announced that they're going to go fully renewable. In fact, when the president pulled America out of the Paris climate accords, he said it was because he'd been 'elected to govern Pittsburgh, not Paris.' That afternoon the mayor of Pittsburgh announced that his city was going 100% renewable.

Keep Carbon In The Ground

Second is to keep carbon in the ground. Scientists have made it clear that at least 80% of known reserves of coal, oil, and gas have to stay underground if we're to have any hope of meeting the climate goals the world has agreed on. That's why we fought so hard against things like the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, or for a moratorium on new coal mines on public land. We win a lot of these fights around the world--and every time we put up a fight we slow down the fossil fuel industry, giving the engineers another year or two to drop the price of clean energy even further.

Divestment

And third we work to staunch the flow of money to the fossil fuel industry. Our biggest tool is called divestment: convincing cities, states, universities, foundations, and corporations to sell the stock they hold in fossil fuel companies. This tactic--pioneered in the fight against apartheid--really works: new studies show it has focused attention on climate change and robbed companies of some of the money they need for further exploration. New York City was the latest convert, divesting its $200 billion pension funds from fossil fuels--and taking the total global commitment to nearly $7 trillion.

These are big goals--we can only accomplish them through movements. That's why we join together, all around the country and all across the planet.