Mitigation Ideas: Social and Behavioral Change

Very often people have everything required to take a step forward on reducing carbon emissions, but either they lack the motivation to do it, or they simply don’t know HOW to do it. Sometimes they don’t even know that change is possible. Influencing people is an incredibly complex endeavor, but an innovation in social outreach that is effective across multiple communities could have a large impact on how humans reduce their carbon footprints.

Charge your gadgets by walking 
Taken together, small actions by many people can have a big net impact. This team has developed a system that uses the motion of walking to charge a powerpack. Currently users must walk 15 miles to charge a smartphone, but developers are working on cutting that down to 5 miles. Users can generate enough energy to run a small mp3 player while they work out.

Energetic art  
These artificial trees generate a small amount of power as the wind blows through their “leaves”, both providing renewable energy and showing everyone who sees them that we’re surrounded by energy just waiting to be collected.  

Cooperatives to help people and institutions work together
An obstacle to reducing carbon emissions is often money. Large lifestyle changes like home renovations, purchasing different vehicles, installing solar panels, and so on require a certain level of income. New and creative techniques for financing renewable energy development at the individual, family, and community levels can have a large impact. This group is bringing together different institutions and communities to build economic prosperity from climate action.

Redesigning cities for bikes
Transit—meaning both human transportation (commuting and travel) and the transportation of goods around the world—represents one of the largest sources of carbon in human society. Cars, trucks, boats, planes, and trains all cost energy, and the bulk of that energy, currently, comes from fossil fuels. Transit is an area where a lot of innovation is already taking place, but there’s a lot more to be done. Lessons from a “brilliant” bike plan show how innovations in city planning, layout, and use can result in more efficient transit.

Solar thermal power 
Port Augusta, Australia is working towards replacing their coal-fired power plant with a stand-alone solar thermal plant. This project is both an advance in solar power, and a new example of a community taking action on climate change.

Positive Deviance
The Positive Deviance organization is trying to help communities harness the inherent creativity and human resources within the community to solve seemingly intractable problems, like how to reduce carbon emissions.

Transition town models   
Several groups are working with the “transition town” model, which encourages towns to work as communities to transition away from fossil fuels. 

Crowdfunding renewable energy projects  
Installing energy infrastructure can be expensive—sometimes too expensive for any one person or any small group to do. Crowdfunding allows those who have resources to give small amounts that have a large cumulative impact. This enables people to take steps towards renewable energy that would otherwise be beyond their financial ability. 

Boston, MA climate action plan
Boston has a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. They also have a well-designed website that outlines that plan and what it means.

Berkeley, CA climate action plan
This city’s initiatives have resulted in a 43% reduction in waste sent to landfills, reducing their methane footprint dramatically.