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What to Do to Fight Climate Change

Climate change poses a major threat to public health, especially for lung health. We must take steps to fight this challenge.

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What Causes Climate Change?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the biggest drivers of climate change. CO2 and other gases from cars, factories, electricity production and agriculture trap excess heat near the earth's surface creating warmer temperatures and shifting weather patterns.1 These changes have broad impacts on air pollution, allergens, extreme weather and wildfires.

However, carbon pollution is not the only driver of climate change. Methane, nitrous oxides and even ozone are some of the other gases that fuel warming temperatures and weather pattern changes.

Major National Efforts to Fight Climate Change

The nation has begun action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from some key sources—power plants and oil and natural gas extraction and processing.

  • Carbon Pollution from Power Plants
    In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever national plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants—one of the single largest sources. Under the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. would cut carbon pollution by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Unfortunately, the Clean Power Plan has been caught up in litigation and is currently on hold. Nevertheless, many states across the country have continued progress by adopting plans to reduce their own carbon emissions.
  • Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Extraction and Processing
    Reducing emissions from oil and gas extraction can help fight climate change and emissions of other toxic air pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Federal action to reduce methane emissions from new sources in the oil and gas sector has been put on hold by EPA. Several states began steps to reduce methane emissions from these sources, using proven technologies to clean up these sources.2 The public strongly supports cutting methane pollution.
  • Transportation Sources
    Changes to cars, trucks and other vehicles have begun to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from tailpipes and improve fuel efficiency. But more work is still needed. 

Take Action

Learn more about protecting your lungs from the harmful effects of climate change and help us fight for healthy air

See how the Lung Association along with a coalition of leading public health, disease advocacy and medical organizations address climate change as a public health issue.

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed October 31, 2017.

    Page Last Updated: July 10, 2019

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