The science shows that change is needed throughout the system, and these individual actions play an essential role in the transition we need to solve the climate crisis. Indeed, the “code red” issued by the world’s top climate scientists this year (IPCC Sixth Assessment Report) shows that time is so short to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, this is an “all solutions on deck” moment for humanity. That means we need a massive surge of bottom-up momentum from individuals taking action together; forward-thinking, top-down decisions from policymakers to usher in the transition; and a middle-out transformation led by businesses, communities, and institutions.
The bottom line is that climate solutions reduce excess greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. All of us can take some action that contributes to this effort, and many of us will be able to take direct action on one or more of the solutions on the list. But indirect action that accelerates these solutions can also have a huge impact and contribute to making climate solutions accessible for more people. For example:
- If you are able to install solar panels on your home, you will inspire your neighbors to do the same and will put your local electricity provider on notice that citizens want to get their power from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels.
- Eating a plant-rich diet and cutting your meat consumption signals to your grocery store and food producers that consumers want less high-emitting meat and dairy production, and more healthy plants.
- Reducing the amount of food you waste ultimately leads to reduced need to cut down forests for land to grow that wasted food, while helping to feed the world’s population.
- Using composting services in your city or asking city government for composting services can reduce the amount of methane produced by food rotting in landfills and provide valuable fertilizer for regenerative farms.
- Using, and asking for, better public transportation and walking and biking infrastructure where you live can make it easier for you and your neighbors to reduce emissions from driving cars.
Helping solve climate change is a collective act, and each of us has a set of levers for changing the systems around us. It’s not always easy, but everyone can make a difference. Our power grows when we work together with others. We are not just individuals, we are neighbors, friends, co-workers, employees, owners, investors, board members, officials, and representatives. Our personal contributions will be more powerful when we learn which solutions have the most impact and join with others in our communities to push for those from government, corporations, and other institutions.
Netflix's "Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet” and nonprofit Count Us In have partnered with Project Drawdown, ENGIE Impact, and Rare to collaborate on a new platform for individuals to identify the solutions that resonate most in their lives and calculate the positive impacts those choices make. This platform aims to align itself to the Drawdown Solutions model, and will continue to harmonize the underlying calculations.
Join this global movement and take a step now:
- Cut food waste – Buy only the food you know you’ll eat
- Eat more veggies – Replace some of your meat with healthy protein-rich plants
- Switch to clean energy – Upgrade to renewable energy in your home
- Insulate your home – Improve your home’s window and wall insulation
- Save with LED lights – Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs
- Heat & cool smarter – Install heat pumps or smart thermostats
- Get solar – Invest in solar panels and solar hot water
- Drive electric or hybrid – Make your next car an electric or hybrid vehicle
- Get around greener – Share a ride with others or travel by bike, public transit, or foot
- Fly less – Stay local, make a video call, or find another way to travel
- Reduce & recycle – Avoid single-use plastic and recycle right
It’s important to note a few things:
- Not all possible solutions that exist in the world are presented here. We select climate solutions that have direct impact on the atmosphere; are scientifically validated, economically viable, and globally applicable; and have many additional co-benefits that solve for other things.
- This list focuses on solutions people in high-income countries (a minority in terms of population) can directly implement, since they are responsible for at least 90 percent of excess global emissions (see this study in The Lancet and this by World Resources Institute with Climate Analytics).
- There are many other solutions that have smaller, but still important, impact at different scales or locations. And there are many future solutions in the pipeline that may also eventually help. What is important is to find the real solutions that resonate most with you and implement them today.
- Additional actions will be added to this list as the model becomes able to slice and dice the global data in newly subtle ways (e.g. green tariffs, leisure flight reduction, and alternative meat).