In general, there are many actions you can take that are behavioral changes such as using less energy or being less wasteful, and these can cut your fossil-fuel emissions up to 20 or 30%, depending upon how careful you already are. But beyond that level it’s difficult to change your life to really clean up emissions, because our personal and societal infrastructure has been built up for decades around cheap fossil fuels. So the big reductions will come from incrementally upgrading our transportation, our buildings, our agriculture, and our supply chains as time and money allow. That’s why national and state plans have emission targets that are decades into the future.
We periodically acquire different vehicles or housing, remodel our houses, or change our purchases of food and goods. Those decisions can effectively lock in emissions for many years—for example, the fuel efficiency of any vehicle will be nearly the same throughout its lifetime. So we must use such decision points as opportunities to reduce harmful emissions.
Since clean-tech transportation and clean and higher-efficiency home energy products are getting cheaper every year, a good strategy is to plan a 50% reduction of your emissions over the next decade (or longer). That rate of improvement equates to better than a 1.5C global path if everyone adopted it. A good starting place is to draft a plan. Plan for the decreasing cost trajectories of things like electric vehicles or solar panels, and when they might fit into your budget (a used Nissan Leaf is now about $10,000). Plan for new infrastructure options, especially if you’re remodeling or building a new building.
Don’t be overwhelmed by scale of the problem. Don’t despair, don’t stay in denial, and don’t delay—these are what Big Fossil wants you to do. Instead, celebrate your empowerment!