There are many ways to eliminate fossil fuels from your life: you can stop fracking in your backyard to capture natural gas, quit strip mining pristine mountaintops, and scrap your plans for building that oil pipeline off the coast.
If these situations apply to you, then you can immediately take significant action to protect the global environment. If they don’t, well, there’s still plenty of things you can do in your own personal capacity.
The climate crisis has been caused by fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — that have been developed by dozens of energy companies around the world, and it’s been enabled by lobbying to block climate action.
Slowing the climate crisis depends on phasing out fossil fuels as fast as possible. It’s that simple, as Greta Thunberg and countless other environmental organizers continually remind us.
But getting there requires political action at both the domestic and international level, spurred by all-hands-on-deck climate activism. Everyone, especially those of us in wealthier countries, have to reduce fossil fuels in our own lives, while also joining the movement working toward a more just and sustainable world.
Here are nine ways to cut fossil fuels out of your life.
1. Call on your representatives to stop approving new fossil fuel infrastructure.
The world can still prevent temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but only if countries immediately stop approving new oil, gas, and coal projects, according to the International Energy Agency.
While the science is unequivocal, governments around the world are still approving new fossil fuel infrastructure and are on pace to produce twice as much fossil fuels as the Paris climate agreement recommends by 2030.
You can call and write to your local, state, and federal representatives to demand an end to new fossil fuel projects. Tell them you’ll stop supporting them if they keep backing fossil fuels. When enough people take this step, it will send a powerful message that can’t be ignored.
2. Protest fossil fuel infrastructure.
Oil pipelines, natural gas fracking projects, and coal mines are operating at full capacity around the world. You can make your disapproval known by joining protests against fossil fuel companies in your area. Make sure you do your research beforehand and try to join an environmental or community organization that can provide support.
3. Call on your representatives to end fossil fuel subsidies.
The fossil fuel industry still receives $500 billion in direct subsidies each year that help to ensure they remain in widespread use. Rather than subsidizing fossil fuels, they should be taxed at a rate that acknowledges their external costs such as global warming and air and water pollution.
When you call on your representatives to block new fossil fuel projects, you can also tell them to end subsidies.
4. Call on your representatives to invest in climate action.
When contacting your representatives, it doesn’t have to be entirely negative. You can also focus on the incredible benefits of investing in climate action. Politicians can mobilize resources for renewable energy, ecosystem restoration, conservation programs, energy efficiency in buildings, and much more, all the while creating millions of jobs.
5. Switch your energy supplier and/or make your home energy efficient.
See if you can find renewable energy providers in your area and reach out to ask about switching your home or apartment’s energy supply to renewable sources. By taking this initiative, you’ll be helping to send more money to renewable sources of energy and signalling to companies that the public no longer supports fossil fuels.
No matter where you are in the world, you can take steps to make your home more energy efficient. From changing light bulbs to insulating windows and doors, there are many ways to reduce energy use in your home. Find a more complete list here.
6. Stop flying as much.
If you fly often, it’s probably the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in your life. Unless you have to fly, it’s best for the planet to consider alternatives. If it’s for leisure, maybe take a vacation to some place you can drive or take a train or bus to instead. If it’s for business, there’s a good chance it can be done remotely over the phone or via video.
7. Support local food systems and adopt a plant-based diet.
Because of its sprawling, destructive, and wasteful nature, the global food system accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally. You can help to reform food systems by supporting local agriculture, buying seasonal produce, and adopting a more plant-based diet.
8. Get an electric car.
If you have the means, think about getting an electric car to replace your current one. Not only will you save money over time from not having to buy gasoline, but you’ll also be protecting the environment by releasing less greenhouse gases each time you hit the road.
9. Reduce, reuse, and recycle — pursue zero waste.
The old zero waste mantra — reduce, reuse, and recycle — is ever-relevant. Think about the ways you can transform your day-to-day life to better protect the environment. You can compost food scraps, carry a tote bag and reusable water bottle with you, buy less and longer-lasting clothing, and generally avoid plastic products.