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How can we decarbonize responsibly?

From planes and cars to the energy we use in our homes, carbon emissions are all around us. They’re also one of the key contributors to climate change. As we know, climate change does not stay within geographic boundaries – it impacts everyone who lives on this planet. One of the ways we can slow down climate change is to “decarbonize,” or remove carbon emissions.  

But how do we decarbonize in an equitable way?  

Let’s start by breaking down decarbonization. Decarbonization is any method that cuts back on carbon emissions or works to remove carbon pollution that is left by manufacturing processes, the electrical grid, transportation systems, and all other processes that put carbon into the air we breathe. Decarbonization is vital to combat climate change and make the environment healthier. We all have a part to play!  

Utility companies like Alliant Energy look to decarbonize the energy grid over time by incorporating more clean energy sources like wind and solar in our energy supply and replacing carbon-heavy sources like coal and fuel oil. On the individual level, decarbonizing your household can range from simple energy efficiency additions like LED lightbulbs to more expensive solutions like efficient heating and cooling systems.  

With these solutions, companies and individuals can decarbonize the environment and help ease the impacts of climate change. But it’s important that we are mindful of all communities as we work to decarbonize together. There are communities consistently left out of discussions on solutions for climate change like decarbonization because of long-term systemic injustice.  

Systemic injustice determines whether or not a group of people have the tools they need for success. When laws and practices were created, bias against certain groups of people were built into public systems like healthcare, employment, housing and education, among others. The core communities affected by this systemic injustice are often families who do not have secure income and especially communities of color.  

Communication and collaboration are key to preventing systemic injustice. The inclusion of members of these core communities in the decision-making process ensures everyone’s voice is heard and their needs are met.  

Socially conscious decision-makers are hard at work making improvements to meet the needs of underserved communities. Programs that address disproportionate pollution exposure in communities of color and provide affordable weatherization and energy efficiency tools in underfunded housing are just a couple of examples of programs that target systemic injustice in climate change.

These examples are just the beginning. It’s up to all of us to keep the momentum going for equitable decarbonization within our communities. Help educate your friends, family and coworkers about the systemic disparities of decarbonization, and urge decision-makers to create solutions that meet the needs of your entire community. 


Grant Barton is a Communications Partner with a passion for sustainability and eco-friendly city planning. He has a diverse background in engineering, politics and international communications and hopes to apply this experience when writing and breaking down complex topics related to Alliant Energy's Clean Energy Future plans.

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