Drawdown Framework

Drawdown is the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. This is the point when we begin the process of stopping further climate change and averting potentially catastrophic warming. It is a critical turning point for life on Earth.

To reach Drawdown, we must work on all aspects of the climate equation—stopping the sources of greenhouse gas pollution, supporting and enhancing the sinks of carbon dioxide found in nature, and helping society achieve broader transformations. That is, three connected areas call for action:

1) Reduce Sources — Bringing Emissions to Zero

Burning fossil fuels for electricity, mobility, and heat. Manufacturing cement and steel. Plowing soils. Clearing forests and degrading other ecosystems. All these activities emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air. Cattle, rice fields, landfills, and natural gas operations release methane—a gas that warms the planet even more. Nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases seep out of agricultural lands, industrial sites, refrigeration systems, and urban areas, adding still more heat-trapping pollutants to Earth’s atmosphere.

These heat-trapping greenhouse gases come from six major areas:

  • 25% – electricity production

  • 24% – food, agriculture, and land use

  • 21% – industry

  • 14% – transportation

  • 6% – buildings

  • 10% – other energy-related emissions

Diagram showing today’s sources of emissions and today’s sinks that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

2) Support Sinks — Uplifting Nature’s Carbon Cycle

Greenhouse gas sinks are the counterpoint to these sources. While 59% of heat-trapping emissions stay in the atmosphere, 24% are quickly removed by plants on land and 17% are taken up by oceans. Most of these greenhouse gases stay airborne, but not all. Natural biological and chemical processes—especially photosynthesis—bring some of that excess back to plants, soil, or sea. These “sinks” are nature’s reservoirs for absorbing and storing carbon. 

3) Improve Society — Fostering Equality for All​

These are three areas of action to pursue globally, simultaneously, and with determination. Numerous, diverse solutions sit within them—practices and technologies that can help the world stabilize and then begin to lower greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. These areas of action, and the sectors and solutions that comprise them, form the Drawdown Framework for understanding.