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Environment

10 things you can do to protect the climate

With a new global agreement to guide governments toward climate protection, personal action is more important than ever. From riding your bike to shopping organic, here are some simple ways you can help save the climate.

1. Use less energy

Most greenhouse gases are emitted by power plants, industry and traffic. By using energy efficiently, you can save fossil fuels and protect the climate. So switch lights and appliances off when you aren't using them, and make sure your buildings are well-insulated so you don't waste energy on heating and cooling.

2. Produce clean energy

Electricity doesn't have to come from fossil fuel-fired power plants. Alternatives like solar are even getting less expensive. Producing power yourself isn't hard - there's lots of space for solar panels on your roof, and by now the technology is well-established.

3. Support good ideas

More and more communities, companies and cooperatives are investing in renewable energies and selling clean power. The solar park pictured above belongs to Saerbeck. The German town with 7,200 inhabitants produces more power than it needs, and is an international role model.

4. Pull your money out of climate-damaging businesses

The number of citizens, funds, insurance agencies, universities and cities that are divesting from fossil fuels is growing. Münster is the first city in Germany to have joined the divestment movement. Globally, 57 cities have already done the same. Investors of all stripes can divest from fossil fuels, making for a dynamic global movement.

5. Switch to bike, bus and tram

Traveling by bike, bus or train saves a lot of CO2. Compared to a car, a bus is five times more climate-friendly - and an electric-powered train is 15 times more climate-friendly! Most people living in Amsterdam bike everywhere. The city takes good care of its cyclists, with its well-kept bike lanes.

6. Eat less meat

Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is generated in the stomachs of cows, sheep and goats. Eating less meat means fewer animals are generating methane. Another reason that large-scale livestock farming and meat consumption are bad for the climate is that it uses such a large amount of resources, including water, and land to grow feed. Rainforests are even cut down to grow soy that is then fed to cows.

7. Buy organic

Laughing gas is no laughing matter - the damaging gas contributes up to 6 percent toward the greenhouse effect. It's generated in power plants and engines - but mostly by artificial fertilizers in industrial agriculture. Use of the gas is prohibited in ecologically oriented farming, so the more that happens, the less laughing gas is emitted. And that helps protect the climate.

8. Build and consume sustainably

A lot of carbon dioxide is produced from production of steel and cement. Wood and bamboo, on the other hand, bind CO2. Consciously choosing products made from sustainable materials helps the climate. The same is true for other everyday consumer choices: drinking a cup of coffee at the cafe uses less resources - and fossil fuels - than getting a cup of coffee to go.

9. Take responsibility

How can we keep down greenhouse gas emissions so that all children across the world - and their children - can live without climate catastrophes? Make responsible choices. These students are fascinated by clean energy and see it as an opportunity for their future.

10. Don't act alone

Perhaps one of the best things an individual can do is not be an individual. Climate activist Bill McKibben points out that coming together in movements is likely to be more effective in changing the systems and structures that are causing the problem.

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