How a Ruling on Gay and Transgender Rights May Help the Climate

The world is still a patchwork of different rules and restrictions, but many places are getting back to work. In New York City, for example, hundreds of thousands of people returned to their jobs this month as the city implemented the first two phases of its reopening plan.

Across Britain, thousands of workers unable to work from home, in construction and manufacturing industries, have already returned to work after the country eased lockdown restrictions in May. Many more will be returning to work July 4, as pubs, restaurants, hotels and museums reopen.

All this requires energy to keep the lights on and the machines running. And that energy means greenhouse gas emissions.

We saw a sharp drop in those emissions when large parts of the world were locked down to fight the coronavirus pandemic, though they are now rebounding. In early April, global emissions were 17 percent below 2019 levels, but by early this month they were roughly 5 percent under last year’s levels.

That’s not enough to solve global warming. So, when we head back to the office, how can we change habits and work culture to help keep emissions down?

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In the United States, commercial buildings account for nearly 40 percent of national energy use. If that energy comes from burning fossil fuels like coal, it very likely produces a lot of greenhouse gas. So changing work habits can make a difference.

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