The recent climate announcement between China and the United States, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, has spurred conversations about how emission cuts will be achieved, and at what cost. According to the CBC, “Under the agreement, Obama set a goal to cut U.S. emissions between 26 and 28 per cent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.” It’s an ambitious goal, but by no means lofty.

Greenhouse gases are believed to contribute to warming of our climate. Carbon dioxide is a dominant gas among the many chemical compounds that stay in our atmosphere for hundreds of years, absorbing infrared radiation and warming the planet. Some may argue that climate change is not a threat, however, many a scientific chart indicate exponential shifts in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, and there is no question, it will come with some level of repercussion. But, let’s get down to the real question—what can we do as individuals to contribute to the emissions goal? It turns out, a lot.

We can start by using less electricity. According to the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), “In 2012, the electricity sector was the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 32% of the U.S. total.” Indirect emissions from electricity use by homes and businesses have increased by 26% since 1990, due to increasing electricity consumption for lighting, heating, air conditioning and appliances. However, now, for electricity consumers in 2014, greener technologies continuously work in our favor. Refrigeration, heating, cooling and ventilation systems get more energy efficient; lighting, responsible for nearly 6% of global CO2 greenhouse gases according to The Climate Group, is a good start for every individual interested in reducing their environmental impact. As LED bulbs become more affordable, consumers are seeing energy bill savings offset the cost of switching to higher efficiency bulbs. And, as LED technology improves, those benefits only increase—since 2012, for example, an LED bulb that was giving 60 lumens per watt is now emitting 100 lumens of light per watt in 2014. (Compare to 13-18 lumens per watt in an incandescent bulb.) If every household in North America changed just one incandescent 60W light bulb to an LED, that is more than 152 million light bulbs—imagine the outcome if this were a global effort?

While homeowners make lighting changes, big cities are also taking initiative to switch to choices that make more sense, economically. According to Biz LED Magazine, all of Taiwan and some major cities, such as New York, Chicago, Shanghai, and Copenhagen are upgrading to LED streetlights, proven to use only 15% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs and lasting up to 100,000 hours. “Switching to LED street lighting can decrease global energy consumption by 40% saving over US$160 billion per year, and controlling about 670 million tons of CO2.”

There is no question, the technologies to play our part in reducing GHG emissions continue to be more accessible. Now, it is a matter of taking the necessary leaps to be the change.

About The Author

John Keirstead
John Keirstead
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist and Inventor.
My objective is to develop useful products that have a net positive effect in the lives of those that use them and the environment that we live in.
CEO of Mission LED Lighting Company Ltd.

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