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Natural Awakenings National

Real Climate Solutions: Co-op America’s 12-Step Program

Take Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative—a scientific plan with the speed and scale needed to curb a climate crisis. Chunk it into manageable segments doable with today’s technologies. Screen out measures too dangerous, costly or slow. Beef up the safest, cleanest, most cost-effective choices. And we arrive at Co-op America’s 12-step program to cut global carbon emissions by 12 billion tons a year by 2054.

“Some steps depend on each of us taking action today,” says Alisa Gravitz, Co-op America’s executive director. “Other steps require real action now from our elected officials, car companies power companies, and other decision-makers.” Everyone is encouraged to spread the word to family, friends and government officials to urge action in these key areas.

Starting today the world has a 10-year window to succeed with at least seven of these steps if we are to preserve life on earth as we know it. Together we can achieve real energy security, new jobs, a cleaner environment, less poverty and a safer world.

We can do it. But we must start right now.

1. Boost average fuel economy from 22-30 miles per gallon to 60 mpg.

2. Drive 5,000 to 10,000 fewer miles a year. Use more mass transit, telecommute, walk and bike.

3. Increase energy efficiency by one-quarter in current buildings and appliances. Move to zero-emissions plans for new buildings.

4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero. Double the rate of new tree plantings.

5. Stop soil erosion. Use “conservation tillage” at 10 times the current rate, growing crops with minimal cultivation. Encourage local, organic agriculture.

6. Increase wind power. Add three million one-megawatt windmills, 75 times current capacity.

7. Push hard for solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic units, 1,000 times current capacity.

8. Raise efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent. Shut down plants that don’t meet the standard. For any new plant built, another should close.

9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase over current levels, but only until zero-emissions renewable technologies replace both.

10. Sequester carbon dioxide underground at existing coal plants.

11. Mainstream zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.

12. Develop biomass to replace fossil fuels until better carbon-free technologies are developed. Make biofuels only from waste without displacing farmland or rainforests.


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