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10 Climate Change Actions I’d Like To See By Tomorrow

tuerff_headshot43z9ub4jb8isos844wowgw8gkea6jc3mqor48ksc88gw00gkwwthIf you’ve spent any time on Facebook, MySpace or any other social network, you’ve seen them: memes, those strange hybrids of straw polls and unbidden confessions. “Top 10 Albums,” “10 Things You Should Know About Me,” and so on….

At UNFCCC events in Bali and Poznán, I learned how other countries are making quicker progress tackling sustainability at all levels. So, here’s a first meme on a relevant topic: what kind of action I want to see from the Obama Administration as soon as possible (tomorrow would be nice).

Save Energy

1. Smarter Weatherization: Require weatherization service contractors receiving ARRA funds to train staff on home energy efficiency. Boots on the ground should provide comprehensive efficiency tips to homeowners after they seal the cracks and add insulation.

2. Pay it forward: Accelerate use of smart meters and power management, but don’t pretend that information alone will reduce consumption. Budget for behavior change plans to make it popular to conserve.

3. Come together, save energy: Encourage utilities to work with industry to provide businesses and consumers with rebates for purchasing energy efficient equipment.

4. Reinvigorate recycling: Feds should prioritize byproduct synergy among manufacturers, restore U.S. recycling infrastructure with market development, and maximize federal recycled content procurement standards.

Save Water and Related Energy Use

5. A hand on the tap: Rapidly expand EPA WaterSense® product certification and consumer branding.

6. Less thirsty lawns: De-couple federal funding for state and local water infrastructure with increased demand. Reward utilities for reducing water waste from outdoor irrigation.

7. Create a Water Prize: Just like the “better battery idea,” offer cash incentives for the best breakthrough water-saving technology for agriculture and manufacturing.

Climate Adaptation

8. The future is now, at least a little: Create a task force for climate adaptation, to help U.S. cities plan and budget for extreme weather, coastal erosion, climate migrations, etc.


9. Don’t buy, share: Boost bicycle and car-sharing programs in every major metropolitan city.

Consumer Protection

10. Squash greenwashing: FTC should stop stalling on revisions to green marketing standards. Put them out. Enforce them.

Some may believe climate change will be solved with passage of a cap-and-trade bill. It won’t. That said, respond to this meme or list yours in the comments – from the policy initiatives you’ve dreamt up, heard whispers about or seen on a random Web site.

Kevin Tuerff is CEO of Green Canary Sustainability Consulting and cofounder of EnviroMedia Social Marketing.

Kevin Tuerff
Kevin Tuerff, CEO of Green Canary Sustainability Consulting and President of EnviroMedia Social Marketing, is reporting for Environmental Leader from the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, Denmark. More updates available at GreenDetectives.net.
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3 thoughts on “10 Climate Change Actions I’d Like To See By Tomorrow

  1. Kevin,

    This is a great idea, and one I hope many people post on facebook and other social networking sites. Here’s my list:

    Top 10 Climate Action to Do Today

    1. Make better quality goods that are durable and last longer. Enough of the cheap products that fall apart after a year and need to be replaced over and over again. Follow the cradle-to-cradle model of product design, and make “durable” a sought-after product attribute. Get Hollywood involved. If Brad and Angelina wore the same thing again and again to events, people might think that’s “cool” for a classy ensemble to have lasting power.

    2. Change marketing practices to stop offering junk as promotions that people don’t need or want, especially at tradeshows. Reduce giveaways and free promotional items. See http://www.wasterecyclingnews.com/inbox2.html?id=1244128193 and http://www.storyofstuff.org

    3. Encourage consumers to buy from companies who take meaningful steps towards addressing climate change. Demand transparency in SEC filings to include climate change disclosure. Don’t invest in companies who fail to share where they stand on climate change.

    4. Require that companies follow scientifically based standards and independent third party verification when claiming environmental benefits. Just because a company says their product is “green” or “eco-friendly” or “natural” doesn’t mean that it is.

    5. Turn talk into reality and create real green jobs for all the hardworking people who are out of work and ready to contribute to the sustainable economy. While we’re at it, provide solid training programs throughout the country and especially in hard-hit areas of high unemployment for people to learn new skills such as how to manufacture solar panels and wind turbine parts and how to install energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.

    6. Invest in public transportation infrastructure and create better bike laws (including mandatory bike helmets and clearly marked bike lanes) so that cyclists are safe. Bikes, buses and trains should not be “alternative transportation” but rather mainstream transportation. For those who drive, drive smart by knowing what your air pressure is on your tires for the best mileage, take efficient routes and carpool.

    7. Reward customers who engage in energy conservation behaviors. Follow the Portland model to fund energy efficiency retrofits by working with utilities to embed energy efficiency measures right on the energy bill to make it a seamless process to become energy efficient.

    8. Every neighborhood should be a walkable neighborhood where everything you need is within a 20 minute walk. See http://www.walkscore.com. Bring back the concept of the local grocery store and offer locally grown produce and healthy and reasonably priced products accessible to everyone. New Seasons is a great model, although can reduce their prices even more so everyone can afford to shop there.

    9. Make zero waste a reality by creating an infrastructure that encourages residential and commercial composting and a recycling market that doesn’t just throw the materials back in the landfills or send recyclables overseas. Nearly everything we “throw away” can be considered a valuable raw material that can be used to create compost (i.e. food scraps or other compostable items), recyclable products or even art.

    10. While international travel is chic and full of mystique, traveling in our own backyard offers just as much adventure and may result in lower carbon emissions in terms of avoiding long plane flights. Rather than backpacking through Europe, why not appreciate the beauty of our own backyard and explore our national parks and natural surroundings, while they are still around.

  2. These are great things to keep in mind and incorporate into our lives. I would like to expand on Jessica’s number 9 a little bit. I think Recycling is a HUGE market that is waiting to be developed further. The consumption of products isn’t going anywhere. The reality is that we need to use resources to continue to live and sustain ourselves. While we can work extra hard to minimize our waste, we will still have waste and therefore an opportunity to recycle. I believe we should stop looking at the waste from our consumption of products as the final step in the process, because the process really never ends. The waste we create and damage we cause is part of a delicate cycle. Instead we need to work harder and double our efforts in growing an industry around taking the waste we need and recycling it back into useful components. This can be a time for opportunity as long as we all accept the situation we have found ourselves in. We first need to make an emphasis on sustainability the standard in business practice, and with cutting edge and strong recycling industry we can have a sustainable future that is better for the entire planet!

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