6. What are we doing and what to do in the future?

Due to time lags in the climate system and the fact that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years, the climate will continue to warm until at least mid-century regardless of what we do today to reduce emissions. If we fail to make substantial cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth will keep warming for centuries to come.

The solutions to the climate crisis are numerous, but the most important goal is the urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This will require stepping up improvements in energy efficiency, reducing waste, slowing deforestation, and shifting to cleaner energy sources.

It requires global efforts such as international policies and agreements between countries, local efforts on the city- and regional level, but it is also a matter for personal action. There are many actions that individuals and business can take to reduce their carbon footprint and act on climate change. Simple actions such as using energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, recycling and composting, purchasing green power, using public transit, and bicycling or walking instead of driving can make a difference by reducing your household’s carbon footprint.

Learn more

1. IPCC (2013). Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

2. IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Frequently Asked Questions. FAQ 7.1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

3. IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Executive Summary. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

4.​ USGCRP (2016). The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. Crimmins, A., J. Balbus, J.L. Gamble, C.B. Beard, J.E. Bell, D. Dodgen, R.J. Eisen, N. Fann, M.D. Hawkins, S.C. Herring, L. Jantarasami, D.M. Mills, S. Saha, M.C. Sarofim, J. Trtanj, and L. Ziska, Eds. U.S. Global Change Research Program.

5. USGCRP (2014).Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. Melillo, Jerry M., Theres (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, Eds., U.S. Global Change Research Program.

6. National Research Council (2011). Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millenia. National Academies Press.

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