How Each of Us Can Take Action on Climate

I’m feeling really good these days, mostly because of the big shift in momentum around climate action. As Bill McKibben, a noted climate change author and journalist, wrote last month, “There’s a shock-and-awe feel to the barrage of actions, and that’s the point: taken together, they send a decisive signal about the end of one epoch and the beginning of another.”

He was referring to the new administration’s philosophical and strategic shift in our approach to climate change that signals the return of the U.S. to the world stage and renewed support for science-based solutions. But it isn’t just the president’s executive orders on climate that have me energized. Republicans, too, are putting forward their solutions for the first time in many years, and Millennial and Gen Z conservatives are pushing their own climate action agendas as well.

And then there’s the largest U.S. car manufacturer, General Motors, which announced that its products and operations will be carbon neutral by 2040. Even the pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of carbon taxes, emissions caps, or other “market-based” policies to address the climate crisis.

These developments and others like them are nothing short of a seismic lean into this new epoch. If ever one needed inspiration to take personal action on climate change, it seems that now there is plenty.

Regardless of your political point of view, it is impossible not to recognize what this underscores, and what C-Change Conversations believes: we have many solutions, supported by both liberals and conservatives, to address the dangers we face from climate change. Bold leadership in government AND business and smart policy – like what we are seeing so far this year – are the pieces to the puzzle we’ve been missing.

While our situation continues to be dire, and our reliance on fossil fuels isn’t going to change anytime soon, we sense a collective exhale and a palpable sense of hope for significant progress to confront this challenge. This energizes me and lifts the weight off my shoulders so now I can focus on what personal steps I can take to further reduce my impact on greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, my actions take on more relevance because now I feel they are legitimately part of the solution.

So I say, it is time to sweat the small stuff. I am inviting you to join C-Change in being both concerned and hopeful about the potential to mitigate climate change and doing what we can in our own lives to take advantage of this exciting momentum, namely: support issues with your voice and vote, make consumer choices that reduce your carbon footprint, and take personal action in the ways that work best for you.

Start with the simple things. TALK about climate change with friends and family, and in your communities and organizations; SUPPORT AND DEMAND action from local, state, and federal leaders that address climate change; and VOTE. Vote in every election in which you are eligible, from the school board to the presidency of the United States.

At home, there are simple, satisfying ways to reduce your carbon footprint immediately and a ton of good books and documentary films to help you learn more about the issues. Choose one or go big. Many will not only help the planet, but save you money as well.

Here are some of the things I have done and recommend:

  1. Read: Climate of Hope by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope and Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken.

  2. Watch: Biggest Little Farm, A Plastic Ocean, Chasing Ice, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.

  3. Do an energy audit on your household. Here’s how.

  4. Switch out your old light bulbs for LEDs.

  5. Opt in to a renewable energy source from your electricity provider. Here’s how. If your state isn’t included on this list, contact your local utility to find out how to select a renewable energy provider.

  6. Reduce emissions from food choices by eating leftovers, composting, eating less meat, and buying locally.

  7. Pre-cycle consumer purchases: choose loose produce over packaged, glass and paper packaging and containers over plastic, bar soap over bottled, bulk items over single-use.

  8. Source locally when possible, recycle and donate items no longer in use.

  9. Consider buying an EV, hybrid, or a very fuel-efficient car.

  10. Support non-profits working in this space.

And most of all, be hopeful and optimistic! Let’s build on the momentum of this new epoch by taking action wherever we can. Small, individual actions collectively won’t seem so inconsequential after all. It’s time to sweat the small stuff.

If you have questions or have suggestions on other ways to make a difference, please email

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash


On January 6th, we were stunned as we watched an angry mob of citizens invade and desecrate the U.S. Capitol.

It was a startling culmination of years of divisiveness, misinformation, and demonization, stoked by pundits and politicians (on both sides). The fabric of our country is torn, and we will have to work hard to repair it.

At C-Change Conversations, we have worked to reduce the divide and help people understand that climate change is an issue that should bring us together rather than push us apart. Why? Because nature does not discern between a liberal or a conservative, or a farmer or a city dweller.

Nature is agnostic – and the changes in the atmosphere that mankind is triggering through greenhouse gas emissions will harm the basic natural systems that enable all of us to live on this earth: adequate water and food, safe temperatures and manageable numbers of natural disasters and diseases. Even though we feel divided, we are all in this together, and our actions with respect to our changing climate will either harm or protect everyone.

I don’t have the road map to help this country heal, but suggest two approaches that have helped C-Change reach across the divide:

1. Respect for trusted sources of information – facts, “truth” if you will, that both groups can find credible. When we allow our pundits and politicians to manipulate facts and recreate their own truth, and then pass that incorrect or heavily slanted information around our blogosphere and our curated news sources until it is mirrored back at us in so many places it feels indisputably real, then we begin to live in separate universes – with no way to find common ground. That’s why C-Change uses non-partisan sources from respected scientific institutions like NASA and NOAA, institutions everyone normally depends on to keep themselves safe, to help people understand why they should take seriously the risks of climate change.

2. Support and appreciation for “bridge builders,” people and institutions that are willing to bring people together across the divide and listen to others and remind them of our common humanity. The dysfunctional tribalism that was created by people and institutions who gain from it prevents many of us from remembering that all Americans want what is best for this country and for future generations. Since we started C-Change Conversations we have met many of these bridge builders, people who invite us to speak in their associations and communities even though they get hate mail or are verbally lambasted for daring to bring up the conversation of climate change. We are proud that we are asked to come in to help them build those bridges, and we are enheartened by the people we have met on our travels who have come to recognize climate change as a human issue, not a political one, and that they are necessary and welcome at the table.

I’ve seen these two approaches work very well. I have traveled to 30 states delivering the C-Change Conversations Primer to challenging audiences over the past three years, and my experience has left me hopeful. In every instance I was struck not only by the courage of our sponsors but also by the engagement from our audiences. A common refrain: “Thank you for helping me understand the science and inviting me in to be part of the solution.” And while not everyone agreed with us when they left, we always treated each other with courtesy and respect, and I truly believe held a mutual appreciation for the interaction we had shared.

Thank you for being part of our C-Change Conversations family and for helping to build those critically needed bridges.


A step-by-step guide to helping your community address climate change

“What can I do?” It’s a question that we almost always get after presenting the C-Change Conversations Primer. Most of us aren’t likely to invent a new renewable energy source or broker an international agreement on climate, but we can have a big impact on decisions made by our local government. That’s important because cities and towns have the power to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help their residents adapt to the challenges presented by climate change.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming involved with addressing climate change in your community.

1. Learn How Climate Change is Affecting Your Area

We are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change in many forms, including increasing temperatures, drought, wildfires, and flooding. To learn more about different risks across the country and where you live, click here. If you live near the ocean, data from Climate Central can help you understand flooding risks for your town. How will your town be affected between now and 2050? Is there a conversation you can start or join in your community about how your town will need to adapt to the projected changes?

2. Identify the Sources of Your Town’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Management expert Peter Drucker popularized the saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Has your town quantified its greenhouse gas emissions? If you’re not sure, call your town clerk to find out. If it hasn’t been done, creating a greenhouse gas inventory is an important step to recommend to your local elected officials. You can ask for a meeting to suggest it, or start by writing a letter to the editor in your local paper. Understanding the major sources of emissions is the first step toward developing effective reduction strategies. There are many resources available to help your town plan to do a greenhouse gas inventory, such as this one from the EPA.

The chart below is an example of the results of a greenhouse gas inventory from Princeton, NJ. By doing a greenhouse gas assessment, the town was able to see that it needed to focus on reducing emissions from buildings, as well as from cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles.

3. Advocate for a Climate Action Plan and Help Execute It

Once your town knows what its emissions are, the next step is to develop a Climate Action Plan. The plan provides a roadmap for a town both to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through a series of clearly identified steps and to protect its residents by planning to adapt to climate change and to become more resilient.

Since 1991, more than 600 local governments have developed Climate Action Plans that include greenhouse gas inventories and reduction targets. Here is a plan developed by Houston, TX that is worth reviewing. Notice that in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Houston’s plan will result in other benefits to the city including reduced traffic congestion and better air quality.

You should be able to find out whether your town has a plan in place by doing an online search or checking the town’s website. If your town doesn’t yet have a Climate Action Plan, you can attend a town meeting and make a public comment suggesting the need for one. You can also request meetings with your local elected officials and reach out to local conservation groups to see if they will partner with you to support the idea.

If your town already has a Climate Action Plan, there will be many ways to get involved to contribute to its implementation. Can you start a conversation in your community about its Climate Action Plan and how residents can support it?

4. Determine How Climate Change is Affecting Vulnerable Populations in Your Town

People who have time and resources are better able to adapt to the risks and challenges of climate change. It’s important to think about vulnerable communities in your town, how climate risks might impact them disproportionately, and what strategies can be developed to protect them.

Rising heat can be a particular challenge to seniors, for example, and those who live in areas with higher levels of impervious surface and less green space suffer disproportionately when the temperature rises. Can you start a conversation in your community about how your town can protect residents more likely to suffer from the impacts of climate change? Here is an example of how Phoenix, AZ is adding shade trees and taking other proactive measures to address rising temperatures:

Small Scale Focus, Tangible Results

Working on the issue of climate change at the local level can be very satisfying. You can see tangible examples of change happening, like the installation of a solar field, the creation of bicycle lanes, or the development of a neighborhood buddy system that ensures vulnerable members of the community are checked on when there is a power outage. Done right, smart local planning to address climate change can yield a wide range of other benefits: building community, improving the quality of the local environment, enhancing public safety and health, and building resilience.

No matter what steps you take to address climate change, starting and keeping the conversation going is essential. C-Change Conversations is here to help! Please let us know how your community is addressing climate change and how you are getting involved.

Sophie Glovier, a C-Change Conversations team member who has presented the Primer in 5 states. Sophie is the Municipal Policy Specialist at The Watershed Institute where she works with citizens and local government to develop and implement strong environmental policy. She serves as Chair of the Princeton Environmental Commission, is the author of Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton, and is the recipient of D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Donald B. Jones Award and Sustainable Princeton’s Leadership Award.


C-Change Conversations is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization (tax ID 82-0839429) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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