When Donald Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, some panicked, others rebuked Trump and still others decided to double down on their efforts to fight climate change.
Countries around the world reaffirmed their commitment to reducing their emissions. U.S. states and cities, too, said they would uphold the Paris agreement.
Although the U.S. will not officially be a part of the accord, that doesn’t necessarily mean the country will stop trying to reduce its emissions. State and local governments, businesses and individuals may still choose to lessen their impact on the environment.
Opt for Renewables
Although Trump hasn’t been the biggest champion of renewable energy and has talked a considerable amount about bringing back the coal industry, we might find the market doesn’t agree.
If people and businesses choose renewable energy over fossil fuels, clean energy will come out on top absent government policies meant to cause the opposite outcome. Electric utilities will build the energy infrastructure that’s most economic and best meets customer demand. If people want to use and are willing to pay for renewable energy, utilities will do their best to provide it.
This would lead to a huge drop in U.S. emissions since electricity is the country’s largest source of emissions, accounting for 29% of them, according the Environmental Protection Agency. By choosing renewable energy over fossil fuels, the U.S. could still do a lot to slow climate change.
Transportation makes up the second largest share of emissions in the U.S., accounting for 27%. Cleaning up our transportation could have a huge impact on our emissions.
As of now, 90% of the fuel used for our transportation is petroleum-based, including gasoline and diesel. The amount of emissions from vehicles has been on the rise, but using cleaner fuels could potentially reverse that trend. Hybrid cars, electric cars and vehicles that are more fuel-efficient have been starting to gain popularity.
If consumers choose these vehicles and businesses continue advancing these technologies, our transportation emissions could be reduced.
People often find it difficult, or even dangerous, to walk, bike or take public transportation in American cities. Developing infrastructure that encourages walking, biking and using public transport could help us cut our emissions by allowing people to use vehicles less often.
Making our homes, offices and business buildings more eco-friendly is another way the U.S. can reduce its emissions despite the exit from the Paris agreement. Green building, which prioritizes things like energy efficiency and using renewable materials, has already started taking off.
Materials with a long lifespan that can also be recycled, like concrete, are greener choices for construction because they won’t need to be replaced as often. When they do, they can be used for something else. Finding ways to reuse waste materials such as coal ash and demolition debris is another green building principle. The buildings we use are significant contributors to our emissions both in their construction and usage. Making both of these areas greener could help the U.S. reduce its emissions substantially.
Conserving natural spaces, whether they’re huge national parks or small green reserves in a city, could play an important role in the reduction of climate change-causing emissions. Green spaces can sequester carbon dioxide, and plant life naturally purifies the air. Preserving natural areas can also help support biodiversity and even save endangered species.
Designating certain areas as green spaces can help encourage development in already-developed areas, which means that things will be built closer together, allowing for less transportation emissions and allowing natural areas to flourish.
Being able to experience nature can also encourage people to want to protect it. Although this is less of a tangible point, it may prove to be important.
Choose Green Products
Choosing to purchase sustainable products and services is another way U.S. individuals and businesses can manage their impact on the environment.
When people choose a more eco-friendly purchase over another one, they tell the company they value the environment. If a company’s green products are selling, they’ll begin to produce more of it, and it may lead them to further green products. Their competition may end up being more eco-friendly, too, in an attempt to keep up.
Organizations that certify products as sustainable and provide consumers with information about companies’ environmental impact are important because they give consumers some certainty about their purchase choices and their effect on emissions and the environment.
Although no longer being a part of the Paris climate accord may make it more difficult for the U.S. to reduce its emissions, individuals and businesses can still have an impact. Developing the right infrastructure and making greener choices could help the U.S. to have a positive impact in the fight against climate change.