Climate 101

Learn about climate change and climate action

Each day as we cool or heat our homes, use appliances, and fuel up our vehicles, we create greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which contributes to climate change. Climate change is irreversible, and it will affect our environment, our economy, and our society. 
Our natural systems cannot absorb all the emissions human beings send into the atmosphere, so we need to take action to reduce emissions, and prepare for the future impacts of climate change. In Raleigh, we’re part of a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hopefully hold off the worst effects of climate change.  
Raleigh is committed to an 80% reduction in community-wide GHG emissions by 2050 through our Community Climate Action Plan.

Climate Change Explanations


  1. Climate Change Definitions
  2. Global Impacts of Climate Change
  3. Climate Change vs. Weather
  4. Local Affects of Climate Change
  5. Building Resilience
  6. Take Climate Action

What is climate change?

Climate change is a process in which energy and heat are trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by greenhouse gases (GHGs). These gases trap heat from the sun, leading to increased temperatures on Earth’s surface. These temperatures have widespread effects on natural and man-made systems. 

Humans are causing climate change 
There is a high level of scientific certainty that climate change is already happening and that it is caused by human activities, largely the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gasoline.

Traffic Shift in place in October 2021 on Tryon Road

We use fossil fuels to generate electricity, to power our vehicles and to heat our homes, even the breakdown of waste releases GHGs. When we burn these fuels, the combustion releases greenhouse gases (GHGs), like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, among others into the atmosphere. Our natural systems can capture some of these emissions, for example trees capture and process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the amount and type of emissions humanity is creating globally cannot be reduced by these natural ‘sinks’. These greenhouse gases increase the amount of the sun’s energy and heat that are trapped in Earth’s atmosphere, thus increasing temperatures. This is known as the greenhouse effect and climate change.   

Community Climate Action Plan

Raleigh’s Community Climate Action Plan addresses emissions in three categories: Buildings and Energy, which accounts for XX% of emissions in Raleigh, Transportation and Land Use, which accounts for XX%, and Resilience and Cross-cutting—including waste—which accounts for the remaining XX%. 

Take Action

Climate action can mean activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Actions can include everything from reusable water bottles to tree preservation and moving buildings out of affected areas.

Learn more about climate action


Lead Department:
Service Categories:
Climate Action