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Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community

University of Colorado Boulder

Concerned about climate change and don’t know what to do? Explore the action categories below.


2°C is serious: let's get going

Climate change is real and human-caused (see our Science page). Staying below 2°C global temperature rise is critical to avoid the worst impacts of climate change (see our Impacts page).

To stay below 2°C, we must bring net greenhouse gas emissions down to zero within about 50 years (United Nations commentary, United Nations report). New information suggests we may have even less time to bring emissions down enough to prevent the worst impacts of climate change (IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C). That means drastically reducing most emission sources and offsetting the remaining difficult ones (i.e., aircraft travel). That’s an enormous, but not impossible task.

Which means we need to get to work now, and tomorrow, and the day after. Let's work together to lower our emissions.


Americans emit a lot

The U.S. emits about 36,000 pounds of C02 per person every year (calculation details). This means a typical American family (3 people) contributes about 108,000 pounds of C02. That's enough gas to fill about 10 hot air balloons — each about 60 feet tall — in only 12 months. That much C02 weighs about the same as two full garbage trucks!

Yearly carbon emissions for a typical 3-person American family

2 garbage trucks on a scale

(data for graph)

(data for graph)


We can reduce our emissions

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce emissions across all four source categories (Energy, Transport, Products, and Food). We know reductions are achievable; many countries already have lower emissions than the United States. For example, most Europeans contribute about half as much CO2 as us despite having a similar standard of living (UCS, World Bank). So now is the time for making a change.

Choose whatever actions you like - and get started.

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