Over the last two weeks, the United Nations held a climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. It was called COP26, which stands for Conference of the Parties, and this was the 26th year that it took place.

The conference had a big goal. Part of it was to try to get countries to agree to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 45 percent by the year 2030. This is critical to help stop the warming of our planet. But youth climate activists such as Greta Thunberg say countries did not take this goal seriously enough at the conference. They say countries promised to do too little.

We wondered what it would mean to our daily lives to actually cut carbon dioxide emissions by this much. Moving away from fossil fuels — the biggest contributor to carbon emissions — isn’t a gloom-and-doom future. It partly involves using current technology, says Laurel Zaima. She is the education and outreach coordinator at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City.

We need to become more energy-efficient. That means replacing old kitchen appliances when they wear out with new ones that have a smaller carbon footprint, Zaima says. An EnergyGuide label tells you how much (or how little) energy a stove or refrigerator uses. It means improving insulation in the attic of your house to reduce the amount of fuel used for heating and cooling.

Those projects are for adults, but there are things kids can do, Zaima says. Put LED bulbs in light fixtures throughout the house. Walk or bike to school instead of getting a ride in a car. Work with your friends and the administrators at your school to cut food waste in the cafeteria. This will help reduce the energy that is used to grow food and ship it to you.

Zaima also recommends that students bring reusable bamboo forks, knives and spoons to school instead of using plastic utensils at lunchtime.

What do plastic utensils have to do with using less energy?

“Plastic is created out of fossil fuels,” too, Zaima says.

Another thing kids might be able to do is urge their families to buy a car that isn’t gasoline-powered. Only 7 percent of adults in the United States have electric or hybrid cars, but 39 percent say they would consider buying one, the Pew Research Center recently reported.

One concern people have is whether there are enough places that have equipment to charge electric vehicles. The United States has about 45,000 public charging stations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Find out how many are in your area at the website afdc.energy.gov/stations/states.

“Students are going to see a lot more electric-charging stations in their neighborhoods, which is really great,” Zaima says.

We also need to rely more on renewable energy, such as wind and solar, Zaima says. Families may be able to get money from the government to put solar panels on the roof of their house, for example.

Zaima says most of the important changes to get us to cut 45 percent of carbon emissions have to happen through the government and the big companies that heat our homes and build our cars and everything else. But small actions are important, too, Zaima says.

“When you align your actions with your morals, it helps keep us focused and reminds us all that we all need to take action to aid the climate movement,” she says. “It’s not going to happen with just one hero.”

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