“Our main power comes from acting as social citizens – demanding societal change – not acting separately as individuals. The solutions to curbing [climate change] are systemic, large-scale and societal. But to get there, we need many small-step solutions in the right direction… Societies change when citizens start to act together with others.” – Per Espen Stoknes
We believe that individual actions matter. Our actions can create ripple effects that inspire and motivate collective actions, ultimately working us towards the systemic change we need to tackle an issue like climate change. Below are a few resources to help you take action on climate change.
Take Action Template
This toolkit, ideal for small groups or classroom settings, walks you through a set of questions and prompts to plan your own climate action project.
Calculate your carbon footprint & reduce your emissions
There are several online carbon footprint calculators that can help you determine where your emissions are coming from, and identify areas of focus for your carbon-reduction efforts. We like the University of California-Berkeley’s CoolClimate calculator.
Once you know your footprint, consider making a personal, household, or business-level pledge to reduce your emissions. Create tangible goals and track your progress! There are many actions you could choose to undertake to reduce your footprint in the following categories:
- Transportation: bike or take public transit to work a certain number of days per week; purchase carbon offsets for plane trips or long car rides; invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle
- Home energy use: conduct a home energy audit; upgrade your appliances to energy efficient versions; opt in to your utility’s WindSource or renewable energy program (if applicable)
- Go solar: consider subscribing to a community solar garden if you have that option (in Minnesota, CERTs has a great community solar subscriber decision tool, and Fresh Energy has developed a Consumer-Friendly Community Solar Pledge that businesses can opt into); otherwise, installing residential solar panels is a possibility, which is often made more feasible by local, state or national rebate opportunities (such as MN’s Made In Minnesota program)
- Food: the average conventionally farmed food product travels 1500 miles from crop to plate, and it takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. You can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by choosing local and organic options whenever possible
- Waste: first and foremost, reduce your consumption; recycle and compost whenever possible; ask your apartment/workplace/church etc. to implement recycling and/or composting; if composting is not an option where you live, talk to your local representatives about developing a composting program
Become a citizen scientist
According to the National Phenology Network, phenology is nature’s calendar—when cherry trees bloom, when a robin builds its nest, and when leaves turn color in the fall. Changes in phenological events are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate change. How plants and animals respond to climate can help us predict whether their populations will grow or shrink – making phenology a “leading indicator” of climate change impacts. Read more from the NPN about why phenology is so important for understanding climate change and how you can get involved with making your own observations. Locally, the 2016 Northern Spark festival, with the theme “Climate Chaos – Climate Rising,” included an installation on backyard phenology that provides interactive opportunities for Minnesota residents to engage as citizen scientists. Our Climate Minnesota: Iron Range convening also featured a well-known Northland phenologist, John Latimer. Listen to his climate story here.
Talk to others about climate change
Communicating your concern about climate change is critical for motivating collective action. We are all experiencing climate change impacts in our daily lives, and we can all talk about the issue. Sharing stories of why you care about climate change, how it is affecting you, and what you are doing to advance solutions can be a powerful way to inspire concern and action in others. Visit our Climate Storytelling Collection for examples of climate stories we’ve collected, and develop your own story to share by following these guidelines.
To address climate change, we have to work together. We all live and work in various communities, and can organize our friends, family, and co-workers to tackle climate change together. The more people you involve in climate solutions, the more your impact multiplies. Whether it’s starting a green group at your church or school, volunteering for a local nonprofit, planning a community event, or joining a local chapter of the Transition Towns movement, there are many ways for you to join with your community for climate solutions. We are stronger, more hope-filled, and more effective when we organize.
Take political action
Show up and make your voice heard for climate solutions. Our decision-makers influence and implement the policies that guide our society. In order to institutionalize climate-friendly policies, we need to make sure they hear from their constituents about the urgency of climate change and the need for climate action. Your elected official works for you! There are several ways you can communicate your concern about climate change to your representatives:
- Learn who represents you!
- Be a climate voter – only vote for candidates who accept the science of climate change and are committed to addressing it
- Sign a petition calling for climate action
- Call your elected officials. Politicians pay attention to phone calls. They are a powerful and direct way for you to communicate with your representative, and they only take a minute! Check out our template phone script for all you need to know to place a call.
- Write a letter to your local, state or national elected official explaining your concern about climate change and urging them to act. Environment America’s searchable environmental scorecard can help you determine who your elected officials are, and how they’ve voted on environmental issues in the past. Citizen’s Climate Lobby has an online submission form for writing letters to your congressperson, or you could mail in your letter.
- Participate in a lobby day (such as our annual Youth Lobby Day), or schedule a meeting with your representative on your own
- Attend an event (such as a march or rally) organized to raise visibility for climate change action and/or pressure elected officials to respond to the issue
Support Climate Generation’s work
Put your money where your values are. Your tax-deductible donation supports our work to educate and empower people to engage in solutions to climate change. You can also support us by attending our events, signing up for our e-newsletter, or following our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.