Introduction to Climate Change and Climate Action

Actions: What are we already doing and how can we get better at it?

The impacts of climate change are already underway, and will intensify over time. That is why it is important for communities, organizations, and governments to adapt to the impacts of climate change as well as cut greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation includes increasing the resilience of infrastructure as well as preparing vulnerable communities for extreme weather events.

Climate change is now inevitable, but we can still impact how extreme it will be. One way to mitigate further climate change is to completely green our energy sector. In California, community choice energy programs provide greener energy to our people. Peninsula Clean Energy, a community choice energy program, brings San Mateo County residents cleaner energy at a lower cost. Peninsula Clean Energy reduced emissions from electricity in San Mateo County in half by 2017 and by January 2021 have transitioned  to 100% carbon-free energy. We continue to make progress on our goal to also use energy that is 100% renewable fy 2025.

Meanwhile, the very best option is to use less energy altogether. That means changing behaviors such as turning off lights when leaving a room and improving the efficiency of our buildings. For example, energy efficient LED bulbs can consume six times less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb.

Visit the San Mateo County Energy Watch website for more details.

Think carefully about your transportation needs and how you meet them.

You could have a big positive impact by reducing the number of flights you take, or the amount of driving you do by yourself in a gas-powered car. Specifically, consider carpooling, taking public transportation, and doing more walking and biking to your destinations. If you need a car, consider an electric car, which greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to a gas-powered car.

Thinking about purchases can have more of an impact on climate change than you think. It takes energy and resources to make things in factories. While reducing your expenses and simplifying your life by reducing the number of things you own, purchasing less will also help fight climate change. Make that positive impact even stronger, by considering how long your products will last and how you will dispose of them – asking yourself if the waste can be composted, reused, or recycled, which all greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released in the landfill.

Interested in waste reduction? Visit the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability’s waste reduction website.

What goes on your plate every day can help you go even further with the positive impact you can make. Eating more of a plant-based meal, while reducing your health risks, also significantly cuts down the amount of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere. Did you know? Consuming a gram of beef or lamb produces 150 times more carbon dioxide than consuming a gram of legumes (beans).

All in all, you may have more power to make a positive impact on climate change than you realize. The above steps are some of the most high-impact actions we can take to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and slow down the warming. To learn more about other actions you can take to protect our precious communities in the Bay Area, check out  San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability’s website.

Be sure to also check out the University of California’s Climate Lab.