Video | January 30, 2023
TEDxBoston: The Drawdown Roadmap
Project Drawdown has used rigorous science to identify and characterize nearly 100 practices and technologies that, if ambitiously implemented together, can achieve drawdown—the point when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change. Now, how do we scale them? The Drawdown Roadmap is a science-based framework to strategically and effectively deploy these powerful climate solutions in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The roadmap takes into account how opportunity for reduction is distributed across sectors, the relative cost (or financial benefit) of the various solutions, and where and when each might most effectively be implemented. In this TEDxBoston presentation “The Drawdown Roadmap: A Science-based Framework to Accelerate Climate Solutions,” Project Drawdown executive director Jonathan Foley introduces the Drawdown Roadmap and outlines how this new plan for prioritizing climate action across sectors, time, and geography can “really drive change on climate change” while there’s still time.
Video | January 24, 2023
How to Make Your Job a Climate Job
Would you like your work to help alleviate the climate crisis, even though "climate" is not part of your current position description? In this webinar, sponsored by Climate People, presenters offer actionable advice on how you can reduce the threat of climate change, wherever you are and whatever you do for a living. Presenters: Aiyana Bodi, senior associate, Drawdown Labs Adam Braun, co-founder and CEO of Climate Cluib Ben Lai, senior software developer and employee Green Team lead at LinkedIn Kristy Drutman, co-founder of Browngirl Green
Profile | January 24, 2023
Drawdown Science Profile: Yusuf Jameel
This article is the third in a series introducing the members of Project Drawdown’s new science team. Yusuf Jameel joined Project Drawdown in 2021 as a research manager for Drawdown Lift. In January 2023 he transitioned to the Drawdown Science team as associate scientist, data science. A multidisciplinary scientist with experience in water resources, public health, data analytics, and science communication, he’s passionate about finding solutions to climate change and bridging the gap between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Yusuf obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Please welcome Yusuf as he shares his thoughts on growing up on the banks of the Ganges River, enhancing human well-being through the adoption of climate solutions, porcupine hair, and more. Q: When people ask you what you do with Project Drawdown, what do you tell them? A. As a member of the science team, I work on climate solutions using my experience in data analysis, especially on solutions that also address the food–energy–water nexus. I also work on translating the science in a way that makes it widely accessible. Q: Of all of the things you could be doing, why did you choose to join Project Drawdown? A: Project Drawdown is on a mission to actually address the biggest problem the world is facing today, climate change. I was really impressed by the book. It was the first to lay out that yes, we can address climate change—it's not just about gloom and doom, it’s also about opportunity. Project Drawdown addresses climate in a way that’s multidimensional, promotes the best science, addresses the different audiences, and passes the mic. That really motivates me. Q: What do you consider some of the biggest obstacles to implementing and scaling up climate solutions? A: First is unlocking the finance to fund climate solutions globally. We need capital from the private sector, from banks divesting from fossil fuels, and we need to invest in green solutions. Another challenge is politics. We need to think more altruistically. This is a global challenge requiring everyone to join hands, yet it has not been the case so far. The good news is, public perception is changing. Hopefully politics will change, and more capital will be funneled into climate solutions. Q: OK, time for a break. What’s your favorite food? A: I would go with my comfort food, and that’s biryani. It’s a big tradition in South Asian countries, and if you ask anyone in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, biryani is probably one of the top dishes. It’s not the healthiest dish, but it’s just so comforting. Q: I’m sure you have many, but can you tell us about one superpower you bring to this job? A: I’m a jack of all trades. Whether it’s high-level thinking, brainstorming ideas, or actually doing the work, I’m comfortable doing it all. I’m also adaptable. If a situation requires me to step up and take the lead I can, or I can step back and follow. Q: What's a childhood experience that relates to the work you're doing today? A: I grew up on the banks of the River Ganges. Every now and then there would be flooding. As a result, many people would go through an annual cycle of losing crops and be entrenched in a cycle of poverty, unable to get out. This had a profound effect on me. When I started reading about climate change and seeing flooding events become more and more intense, I recognized the need to address climate and development holistically. Q: What’s your favorite Drawdown Solution? A: There are so many of them! I really like Distributed Solar Photovoltaics and Reduced Food Waste, but my favorite is Clean Cooking. I think that solution can revolutionize the lives of billions of people in the world, especially young girls. It not only addresses climate but also vastly improves health, addresses gender equality, and opens up economic opportunities. If we can implement clean cooking and distributed solar, we’ll see huge changes in the lives of billions of people globally. Q: Time for another break. If you were a nonhuman animal, what animal would you be? A: As a kid I had short hair that was like vertical hair, as if I had had an electric shock. So many of my friends called me Porcupine. People would rub my hair all the time as it felt like velvet. Now I keep my hair long. Q: What gives you hope? A: I derive my hope from two things. First, we’re rapidly advancing technology—a lot of people from across the world are putting their effort into finding and implementing the best and most important solutions to address climate change. Second, when I was at COP27, I saw that young people are really leading the movement. That gives me hope that we can do meaningful work on this very important but challenging issue. Q: Anything else you’d like to share? A: I like nature. I especially like mountains. This is something I realized very late in life, maybe because I grew up in cities with very little nature around. When I moved to Utah, I started going to the mountains. I realized how peaceful and how nice it is, and I can’t not talk about it. As human societies are getting more urbanized, a lot of us, especially young people who live in large metropolises, are cut off from nature. And I hope they reconnect with nature. We need to appreciate nature and biodiversity much more than we do. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. We need to love it, respect it, and protect it.
Profile | January 17, 2023
Drawdown Science Profile: Amanda Smith
This article is the second in a series introducing the members of Project Drawdown’s new science team. Amanda D. Smith, Ph.D., joined Drawdown Science as senior scientist, built environment, in December 2022. Amanda is a researcher and analyst with expertise in building science and energy systems modeling. Her professional career includes academic, national laboratory, and industry positions. Most recently, she served as senior energy analyst at SOCOTEC USA. She received her doctorate from Mississippi State University. Here, Amanda shares her thoughts on, among other things, the intersection of climate solutions and the built environment, life as the daughter of a nuclear engineer, and the ideal weekend. Q: When people ask you what you do with Project Drawdown, what do you tell them? A: I’m bringing more perspective on buildings and energy systems into Project Drawdown: how buildings consume energy; how large-scale energy systems work and interact with the economy, the environment, and the other human-built systems they're providing services for. I’m looking at all of that through a lens of climate solutions and improving the human experience in the world. Through research, outreach, and education, hopefully we’ll get the word out about the climate solutions that are ready to go and help people evaluate which to implement. Q: Of all of the things you could be doing, why did you choose to join the Drawdown Science team? A: The mission really speaks to me. When the Drawdown book first came out, I had personally been discouraged by feeling like we as humans were very comfortable using resources and not valuing the planet and our fellow humans with less access to those resources. The book was inspiring, and the question was practical: We know we need to get to drawdown, so how can we do this? At Project Drawdown I have freedom to do academic research. I have opportunities to teach people. But I’m part of a small team. I feel like we’re nimble and creative, and there is a focus to our work. Even though the things we’re doing are so different, it essentially comes back to one shared vision. Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles to solving climate change, and how does your work with Project Drawdown address them? A: A lot of the obstacles are in perspectives and attitudes. I hope I can bring a wider perspective by asking questions like, “Why are we building things the way we are?” “Why are we using resources the way we are?” We have technologies that can help with this, and we should be deploying them quickly and strategically. On the technical side, we tend to look to adding more technology to “fix” issues with how our buildings affect the environment. But what I want to make sure is out in the public awareness is that there is a lot of knowledge in building science we want to take advantage of, not just new technology, and simplicity has a lot of value. For example, using best practices for designing and constructing the building envelope (like the Insulation solution) means we need less mechanical equipment to keep the building comfortable for the people inside (like the High-Efficiency Heat Pumps solution). This can also make building management simpler, conserve resources, and boost the building’s resilience to extreme weather or power outages. Q: Everybody has a superpower. What’s yours? A: Being a systems thinker—being able to ask questions outside of my discipline or go beyond the original question asked. It probably came from having a mom who was a science teacher and who encouraged me to ask questions. Q: What's a childhood toy or experience that relates to the work you're doing today? I grew up in Russellville, Arkansas. We have a nuclear plant in our hometown, and my dad worked there as a nuclear engineer. I actually got to visit the site as a kid, pre-9/11, and he talked to me about his job. You can see some of the plant’s interactions with the environment. There’s a cooling tower visible from miles away that is evaporating water drawn from the river as part of the plant’s cooling system—to a child it’s a big cloud-maker. Growing up with someone who was a power plant engineer gave me the understanding from a young age that the electricity I’m using is coming from somewhere. I don’t look at a wall socket and assume the electricity magically appears; I have always known that so much happened before that electricity got to the building. Q: If you could eat lunch with any famous person, living or dead, who would it be? A: If I can have two, I’d have lunch with Alan Watts and Chungliang Al Huang. It would be amazing to witness their interactions and get to ask questions. Their writing has changed my thinking on science, technology, intelligence, and what it means to cooperate with the natural world and recognize yourself as part of it. Q: What’s your favorite drawdown solution? A: My favorite solution actually isn’t classified as a buildings solution: It’s Plant-Rich Diets. I love eating vegan food, and I feel good about how it affects me, the broader animal community, and the wider world. Q: What gives you hope? A: A lot gives me hope. I feel like the conversation has shifted well beyond, “Is climate change happening? Should we change what we’re doing?” to a more complex conversation. We have work from Project Drawdown and lots of other places to show that there are effective actions we can take using what we know now, and they have benefits beyond the climate. My job is to get the message out about that, and to help people understand how the technology pieces come together for a better future. Having the ability to do work that is meaningful—that gives me a lot of hope. Q: Your ideal way to spend a weekend? A: An ideal weekend includes some time in a forest, and a book, and probably a walk with the dogs or a cat on my lap.
Feature | January 6, 2023
Drawdown Stories: 2022 year in review
In 2022, Drawdown Stories welcomed the world into a journey to “pass the mic” to the climate heroes who often go unheard and, in the process, invite people everywhere to tap into their unique “superpowers” to play a role in helping the world reach drawdown. Early in the year, I took the stage at the 2022 Planet Forward Summit, sponsored by organizations including National Geographic, Discovery, Comcast, Adobe, and Patagonia, to underscore why accelerating new, inclusive climate conversations isn’t only nice, but necessary. “I want to ask you to consider a question: As you navigate crisis, as you seek solutions, who and what are the voices that often aren’t represented in those conversations? Literally, look around you. Consider who is sitting next to you. If you’re on the livestream, consider who’s in the rooms with you or who you work with. What voices are represented, and who’s missing from those conversations? “Unfortunately, studies have shown that those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the climate crisis – Black communities, Indigenous communities, communities of color, low-income communities – are also often not represented in climate conversations or in rooms like this, and that’s a huge problem. In the spirit of navigating crisis and seeking solutions, we’re not taking that sitting down; we’re doing something about it and that’s what passing the mic is all about.” Reaching drawdown as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible requires that all communities – particularly those least represented – have a seat at the table and have a part in solutions. Recognizing the task at hand, Drawdown Stories serves to spread awareness, shape attitudes, and spark action for the broader climate community, including educators and their students, as well as other future climate leaders, through storytelling and engagement. This year, we made progress in a number of ways. We centered the voices that often go unheard in the popular climate solutions dialogue. In February 2022, at the start of Black History Month, Drawdown Stories hosted a virtual launch event for our program’s guiding principle of “Climate Solutions in Color” at the annual Great Northern Festival. We were joined by Clara Kitongo, program manager at the One Tree Per Child Program at Tree Pittsburgh; Ben Passer, senior program officer, Midwest climate and energy, at McKnight Foundation; Jacqui Patterson, founder and executive director of the Chisholm Legacy Project: A Resource Hub for Black Frontline Climate Justice Leadership and former senior director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program; and Jothsna Harris, founder of Change Narrative. Hosted live for hundreds in real time, the conversation underscored the need to welcome underrepresented voices in climate, not only to counteract historic and present disparities, but to welcome everyday “superpowers” of those who have often been left out of the conversation. We introduced the world to drawdown-aligned climate careers and solutions in action. Drawdown Labs highlights how every job can be a climate job and, through the work of Drawdown Stories in 2022, we showcased a diverse range of people in careers helping the world reach drawdown. The 20 change makers – in 20 unique roles showcasing the diversity of climate careers: Paige Anderson, project manager at the City of Pittsburgh, Department of Mobility and Infrastructure Blair Beasley, director of climate strategies at the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, working to support Drawdown Georgia Erica Cochran Hameen, PhD, architectural designer, professor, researcher, and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture Alexis Cromer, food operations director at 412 Food Rescue Tylesha Giddings, technical project manager at Southface Adam Hicks, field manager at Concrete Jungle Tonya Hicks, founder and CEO of Power Solutions, and Founder of Women Do Everything Kendrick Kelsey, Reuse Center associate at Lifecycle Building Center Clara Kitongo, program coordinator, One Tree Per Child, at Tree Pittsburgh Angie Martinez, senior right-of-way manager at the City of Pittsburgh, Department of Mobility and Infrastructure Demetrius Milling, worker-owner at Love is Love Cooperative Farm Veni Mittal, (former) energy audits associate at Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh / community service chair at the Green Building Alliance Tom Mulholland, senior project manager at Grounded Strategies Robin Okunowo, program coordinator at Captain Planet Foundation's Planeteer Alliance Sarah Olexsak, manager of transportation electrification at Duquesne Light Company Steve Place, horticulturist at the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design Eri Saikawa, associate professor, Winship distinguished research professor of environmental sciences, and director of Emory Talks Climate at Emory University Shawn Taylor, crew leader at Landforce Richard Tumushime, head electrician at Energy Independent Solutions Brandon Walton, fleet manager with the City of Pittsburgh, Office of Management and Budget We equipped communities with stories and resources to spread awareness, shape attitudes, and spark action. While The Great Northern Festival was the official launch of Drawdown Stories’ work to “pass the mic,” it was later in the spring that we launched Drawdown’s Neighborhood, a climate solutions short documentary series featuring the stories of climate solutions heroes, city by city. The series began with stories from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and, in the fall, added stories from Atlanta, Georgia – centering stories of BIPOC, women, youth, and immigrant climate leaders. The Drawdown’s Neighborhood series is only beginning to achieve the impact it set out to have. To date, people from community organizations and other institutions in 30+ states have shared ways they plan to collectively engage more than 1 million people with Drawdown’s Neighborhood. Each series features learning and action resources, including offerings from ChangeX, Climate Generation, Ecochallenge.org, Solutions Journalism Network, and SubjectToClimate, as well as Project Drawdown resources like the Drawdown Labs Job Function Action Guides, Climate Solutions 101, and the Drawdown Solutions Library. We collaborated with platforms and communities alike to begin to “pass the mic.” This year, Drawdown Stories also contributed to a number of annual conferences and events hosted by Climate Generation, The Great Northern Festival, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the New England Aquarium, and Planet Forward. These collaborations resulted in tremendous reach, including downloads as part of National Geographic’s Overheard Podcast episode “The Greening of Pittsburgh” and more than 50,000 views hosting a show as part of Pinterest TV’s Climate Week show, “Real-World Climate Superheroes.” We also shared Drawdown Stories content and resources directly – through talks and workshops – with communities of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability Education (AASHE); California State Universities; Chabot College; Children’s Climate Championship; Club of Lisbon; the Design for Empathy Podcast; The George Washington University: Grand Valley State University: the HOPE, ACT, THRIVE podcast: Mass Audubon: the Mid-Atlantic Climate Change Education Conference: Pittsburgh Youth for Climate Action (hosted by Communitopia): SEI: Stanford University: The University of Maryland: and more. Locally, with the generous support of 7 Stages Theatre and Drawdown Georgia, we also hosted the very first of many Drawdown’s Neighborhood community launch events. This launch, for Drawdown’s Neighborhood: Atlanta, welcomed 150 community members including public and private sector leaders, climate professionals, environmental justice advocates, educators, faith-based organizers, and everyday climate heroes from a wide range of locally and nationally recognized institutions. We prepared to go even further in 2023. In the second half of 2022, Drawdown Stories welcomed a new storytelling coordinator and engagement coordinator, bolstering the impact of our work community by community. In addition to preparing to feature and share more stories, we began to explore exciting partnerships and editorial collaborations that will bear fruit in 2023. As we continue to build Drawdown Stories, we are excited for the impact of our work to blossom – providing people with a better understanding of the role climate solutions can play in their local communities and the science underlying those solutions; providing people with opportunities for deeper exploration and dialogue related to climate change and climate solutions; and providing people with relatable, relevant, inclusive stories and resources that enable them to help the world reach drawdown.
Profile | January 5, 2023
Drawdown Science Profile: Paul West
This article is the first in a series introducing the new members of Project Drawdown’s science team. Paul West joined Drawdown Science as senior scientist, ecosystems & agriculture, in September 2022 after working part-time with Project Drawdown as director of special projects since January 2021. An applied ecologist, he focuses on identifying and amplifying co-benefits of climate solutions for conserving biodiversity, sustainably producing food, and enhancing the overall health of people and our planet. Before coming to Project Drawdown, Paul held leadership positions at the University of Minnesota and The Nature Conservancy. The Web of Science has named him one of the world’s most influential ecology and environmental researchers. In this interview, Paul shares his thoughts on the intersection of climate and food security, Mr. Rogers vs. Bill Nye The Science Guy, fresh pears, and more. Q: When people ask you what you do with Project Drawdown, what do you tell them? A: I’m helping find solutions to reduce our impact on climate and create a more just world. I bring scientific rigor to the conversation, assess how climate solutions also benefit people and nature, and work with others to effect change on the ground. Q: Why did you choose to join the Drawdown Science team? A: I like to be on the frontier of new science and I’m all about solutions. I’m also very practical. So Project Drawdown is a great fit for me. My work will focus on solutions that bring together my expertise and passion for reducing climate change, improving food security, and protecting nature. How do we meet all three goals? Who benefits and what are the trade-offs? Where are the hot spots that can help or hinder progress? What’s the path and who can help us reach the destination quickest? Q: Can you recall a childhood experience that relates to the work you’re doing today? A: When I was 8 or 9, we had a family friend who was passionate about hunting and fishing and hiking and such. He took me to a few places where there was a remnant prairie and talked to me about what most of that part of Illinois used to look like. It stuck with me just how much our landscape has changed. Q: What’s your favorite Drawdown Solution, and why? A: One is protection of tropical forests, because they store a whole bunch of carbon, are biodiversity hotspots, and are important areas for Indigenous peoples. Another is eliminating food waste, because it’s something everyone sees as a good idea. It’s something we’re able to do as individuals and something that has immediate impact and that we have influence over in our everyday lives. Q: What was the subject of your Ph.D. dissertation? A: I came up with new ways of quantifying how land use change, mainly from agricultural expansion and management, affects water availability and quality, habitat, and climate. Q: What superpowers do you bring to this job? A: Over time I’ve become more of a high-end generalist as compared to extremely good at a few things. That, in combination with being a systems thinker and curious, is a big one. I’m good at cutting through all the noise to find answers and doable actions. And I work well with others. Even though I’m a science guy, I’m more like Mr. Rogers than someone flashy like Bill Nye. Q: What gives you hope? A: There are so many more people, especially young people, these days who are very interested in climate change and are taking action or demanding action by others. Also, it gives me hope that we have most of the tools that are needed to solve most of the problems. Q: What is the most awesome thing you’ve encountered so far today? For breakfast I had a pear and some oatmeal, and there’s something about pears that I love. When I was a kid we had them out of tin and I didn’t like them. This time of year I love to have a fresh pear.
News | December 19, 2022
Drawdown Labs: The year in review
In 2022, Drawdown Labs called for much more expansive private sector climate action—raising the bar for corporate climate leadership, welcoming more people in to help bring about solutions, and helping shift more money toward climate action. As Project Drawdown executive director Jonathan Foley and Drawdown Labs director Jamie Alexander wrote in CNN Opinion this year: Bringing climate solutions into the world at scale requires that every part of the economy bring its superpower to bear: genuine business leadership moving markets, investors and philanthropists shifting capital, workers building solar panels and wind turbines, and cities and states making climate solutions a reality in the places we live and work. And all of this will be accelerated by community leaders, employees and activists keeping the pressure up and demanding accountability. Galvanizing bold climate action among these powerful global actors—and doing what we can to hold them accountable to their commitments—remains our mission at Drawdown Labs since we launched this experiment three years ago. This past year we were proud to make big moves toward this goal. Read on for highlights from 2022 and a sneak peek at our plans for the year ahead. We grew our community and expanded our reach: We welcomed new businesses Lyft, Etsy, and Askov Finlayson into the Drawdown Labs Business Consortium, expanding the base of businesses with ambition to align with the Drawdown-Aligned Business standard. We created a new type of partnership, welcoming five organizations as implementation partners to help our business network reach the standards we’ve set out in the Drawdown-Aligned Business Framework: Carbon Collective, Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Evergreen Action, Rewiring America, and Seneca Solar. We reached a new audience, business school students at the University of Colorado–Boulder, with a new course on the Drawdown-Aligned Business Framework. We learned from the expertise of our two senior fellows, Chidi Oti Obihara and Sarah Frias-Torres, who spent the year with us doing important research on how Project Drawdown’s climate solutions can help shift the flow of capital to climate solutions. We used our platform to hold leaders accountable and call for faster action: Drawdown Labs director Jamie Alexander called on President Biden on Al Jazeera to declare a climate emergency, unlocking more resources to help scale climate solutions. We played a key role in mobilizing business support for what became the Inflation Reduction Act, including by placing a full-page ad in the New York Times—seen by over 4 million readers—reminding the world that we have the solutions to the climate crisis and that leading businesses support strong federal climate policy. In a fiery discussion between Jason Jacobs and Jamie Alexander on the My Climate Journey podcast, we helped open up a new conversation about some of the tensions and double standards that exist in the climate solutions space, igniting important discussions and helping all of us see ourselves on the same team. We held our business partners to a high standard, and publicly called on them to step up when they fail to meet our expectations. We leveled up corporate climate leadership to a new Drawdown-Aligned standard: We gathered an all-star lineup of climate experts and advocates in a webinar to press business leaders on robust climate policy advocacy. To accelerate work in another key area of leverage, investments and finance, we also organized two webinars on decarbonizing corporate cash and greening 401(k)s to show that cash is not climate neutral. Senior associate Julian Kraus-Polk wrote for GreenBiz that companies must consider their financed emissions if they are to help curb the climate crisis. Understanding that each company and industry has a “climate superpower,” we brought together a group of experts to crosswalk the Drawdown-Aligned Business Framework with the gaming industry, utilizing its extensive reach to explore how it can go beyond operational “net zero” and level up climate impact. Recognizing the world’s need to rapidly shift capital away from carbon-intensive activities and toward climate solutions, we worked to expand upon a new work stream focused on the role of finance. We brought on two senior fellows to kick-start this work by researching key climate finance and philanthropic strategies. And we laid the groundwork for a 2023 launch of a new network of investors and philanthropists who will work with us to better align funding decisions with strategic climate solutions. We equipped employees with tools and inspiration to take climate action at work: We are proud to be doubling down on our call to action: Every job is a climate job. To help bring this idea to life, this year we dug deeper into what that means and how we can help bring that rallying cry to life. We released Job Function Action Guides for seven common corporate job functions, highlighting the climate actions that individuals in these roles can implement at work. We connected thousands of employees with the action guides via social media, newsletters, presentations, and podcasts; the action guides are currently being used at companies across tech, manufacturing, food, and other industries. We partnered with Terra.do to provide a deeper insight into what it means to apply a climate lens to your current role. Jamie was a guest on the A Matter of Degrees podcast to discuss how individuals can take climate action at work. Senior associate Aiyana Bodi discussed the creation of the action guides for Work on Climate. We told employee stories, from those deeply engaging their customers and communities, to employees working beyond their job description—all in the pursuit of climate action. And so much more on our YouTube channel. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to stay in the loop on the work we have in store in 2023.
News | December 14, 2022
Drawdown Lift: The year in review
2022 was a busy year for Drawdown Lift, which focuses on promoting climate solutions that generate multiple benefits for poverty alleviation. From publishing a first-of-its-kind report to meeting with officials and civil society leaders and presenting at COP27, Drawdown Lift bridged important gaps between the climate and sustainable development fields. Here are the highlights. In March, the Drawdown Lift team published a landmark report, Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for synergistic solutions at the intersection of planetary and human well-being. The report provides concrete evidence of how climate change solutions can contribute to alleviating multiple dimensions of poverty in rural communities in Africa and South Asia. The report highlights 28 climate solutions that leaders and practitioners in low- and middle-income countries can prioritize as they address climate impacts, advance sustainable development, and pursue renewable energy pathways. The report was presented to a wide range of climate experts and climate-focused development professionals representing climate finance institutions, multilateral and bilateral development institutions, philanthropies, impact investors, NGOs, and more. Officials, civil society leaders, and climate experts across the world lauded the usefulness and timeliness of the report. “The findings outlined in the report are really important to our work,” remarked Mikko Ollikainen, head of the UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund, “as they delineate the interconnections between climate solutions, the improvements of livelihoods, and other benefits, and therefore advance the well-being of the communities that we serve.” Similarly, Moffatt Ngugi, natural resources officer with USAID/Mozambique and Lift Advisory Council member, commented that the report contains “integrated work that we all need to know about.” Monica Jain, lead evaluation specialist for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and former Lift Advisory Council member, noted that “this is a massive evidence review highlighting the co-benefits of climate mitigation solutions and human well-being. It can guide policymakers, funders, and researchers for future investments.” Following the report’s publication, the Drawdown Lift team embarked on a fast-paced (mostly virtual) tour promoting the findings and recommendations. Throughout the year, the team had more than 60 public and media engagements and wrote 20 articles and op-eds, in addition to producing a high-level analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions in eight African countries. Interviews and quotes from the team appeared in outlets such as Al Jazeera, Scientific American, The Revelator, The Drop, Atmos Magazine, and Tree Speech podcast, among others. Additionally, Drawdown Lift summarized the report in a short video that was screened during several presentations for climate professionals. The team also worked to ensure the results of Lift’s work are actionable for climate-focused public and private decision-makers. Drawdown Lift staff held approximately 40 meetings with external stakeholders, including the Adaptation Fund, Global Environment Facility, World Bank, USAID, Save the Children, the Gates Foundation, Stewart Investors, International Gender Champions, and many more. Through meetings and presentations, we continue to raise awareness for climate solutions that can help address the world’s climate and poverty crises simultaneously. These efforts culminated at COP27, where program staff and some Lift Advisory Council members presented at side events and met with key stakeholders, including ministry officials from Pakistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Tanzania as well as representatives from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the International Water Management Institute, and Arizona State University. Drawdown Lift director Kristen P. Patterson spoke on a panel hosted by the World Resources Institute titled “Fast-Action Mitigation to Slow Warming in this Decisive Decade.” The Lift team also organized a panel discussion at the Locally Led Adaptation pavilion. That event, “Triple impact: Prioritizing climate solutions that advance adaptation, mitigation, and poverty alleviation,” featured speakers from BRAC, One Acre Fund, Save the Children, and USAID. This year, Drawdown Lift also welcomed a new member of the team, Daniel Jasper, to serve as a policy advisor, and added new members to its Advisory Council: Rajib Ghosal (regional senior technical advisor, climate change, Save the Children, Asia-Pacific) and Cheikh Mbacké Faye (director, African Population and Health Research Center, West Africa Regional Office). As we look ahead to 2023, our ultimate objective remains clear—to convince the world that we don’t have to choose between addressing climate change and alleviating poverty. As Patterson says, “We must prioritize climate solutions that generate substantial benefits for well-being to boost equity and usher in prosperity for populations least responsible for the climate crisis in Africa and South Asia.” In the year ahead, we plan to host a number of high-level webinars, private convenings, and public events and will continue to share additional research on climate solutions that also alleviate poverty. We invite you to stay tuned for these events, articles, and much more via the Project Drawdown newsletter.
Perspective | December 12, 2022
We need to move faster on climate. Here’s how.
These are exciting times for those of us working to put the brakes on climate change. We have been saying it for years—it’s both possible and necessary to stem the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—and climate solutions are finally starting to get the attention they deserve. Renewables are overtaking fossil fuels as the energy source of choice. Lawmakers are recognizing and responding to the urgent need to apply resources to stabilizing our climate. Around the world, we’re seeing an uptick in adoption of virtually every one of Project Drawdown’s climate solutions. But is this enough? With atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations now over 420 parts per million, our window of opportunity is starting to close. To avoid climate catastrophe, we need to head in the right direction as quickly, efficiently, and equitably as we can. And that means being strategic about every bit of time, energy, and funding we put into adopting climate solutions. To that end, Project Drawdown is embarking on a bold new three-pronged vision over the next three years. First, we are accelerating the deployment of climate solutions by setting science-based priorities for climate action—across sectors, timescales, and geographies—to make more rapid and efficient progress. In addition, we are identifying powerful co-benefits of climate solutions—to improve health, well-being, and equity—that can accelerate and enhance action. And we are considering multiple levers to scale climate solutions—including changes in policy, capital flows, business models, technology, and behavior. Second, we are accelerating new leadership by connecting changemakers—business leaders, investors, philanthropists, development officials, and more—with science-derived strategies to ensure climate solutions scale as quickly and equitably as possible. Third, we are accelerating new conversations, “passing the mic” to climate heroes who often go unheard and shifting the focus from problems to solutions and from doom and gloom to opportunity and possibility. And we’re drilling home the idea that everyone stands to benefit from drawdown—and everyone has a vital part to play in achieving it. We’re proud of the contributions we’ve made to solving climate change by identifying what the world needs to do. Our job now is to delineate how best to do it so we can achieve the change needed in the time allowed.
December 9, 2022
To lead on climate action, engage your employees—all of them
We are reaching an important juncture within the corporate climate landscape. In a recent Deloitte survey of over 2,000 C-suite executives, 97 percent said “their companies have already been negatively impacted by climate change,” yet only 19 percent of these companies were identified as “leaders” in sustainability. At the same time, climate change solutions are proving to be beneficial to business: Companies that take climate action seriously see more revenue per employee compared to the average—and those that don’t, see below average revenues. Climate change is becoming increasingly top of mind for companies, but—despite the clear business value of being a sustainability leader—only a small portion of them are taking the necessary actions. To remedy the disconnect between concern and action, we must redefine the standard for corporate climate leadership while also broadening who is involved in helping reach this standard. Companies have enormous social, political, and financial leverage—and the obligation to use it. Last year, Drawdown Labs—Project Drawdown’s private sector testing ground for going beyond “net zero”—introduced a new framework for corporate sustainability, showing that businesses, through things like policy advocacy and reevaluating financial relationships, can positively impact climate beyond reducing their own direct emissions. The key to reaching this elevated standard for climate action starts with expansive engagement of employees. Employees represent a range of skills and knowledge that can scale solutions in the workplace and beyond. To deploy solutions that match the magnitude of the climate crisis, we will need everyone—and in the corporate context, this means sustainability can no longer be the purview of leadership or sustainability teams only. Every job needs to become a climate job. Drawdown Labs recently published seven Job Function Action Guides focused on common corporate job functions to help leadership and employees implement solutions across the board. By understanding how ubiquitous corporate teams have opportunities at their fingertips to implement climate solutions into their responsibilities, decision-makers can spread climate action throughout their organizations for more effective, meaningful, and long-term impact. Below we overview three powerful actions your finance, human resources, government relations, legal, marketing, procurement, and sales teams can take. Visit the Job Function Action Guides web page for many more actions and further information. FINANCE Banking Direct decision-makers toward banks that are: minimally financing the fossil fuel industry and deforestation; shifting their financing to climate solutions; committing to aggressive anti-fossil fuel policies; and calculating their financed emissions. Insurance Inform insurance brokers that the company wants to consider not only policies and pricing during each insurance renewal, but also the sustainability of insurance carriers. Employee retirement benefits Team up with the human resources and operations team to evaluate whether retirement plans, 401(k)s, and other portfolios are invested in fossil fuels—and if they are, working to shift the default retirement option to a climate-safe one. GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY Policy and regulation Increase transparency about how the company spends political contributions and lobbying dollars, and allocate more dollars to lobbying in support of climate policy. Public support Work with the marketing and communications teams to develop effective communications strategies and campaigns to publicly support climate legislation. Trade associations Assess the trade associations the company belongs to and encourage these associations to lobby in support of climate action. HUMAN RESOURCES AND OPERATIONS Benefits Offer employees financial support for their own individual climate action, such as renewable energy purchasing and low-carbon transportation. Recruitment and professional development Integrate climate and sustainability requirements and metrics into job descriptions, objectives and key results, and performance reviews and bonuses. Workplace culture Foster a work culture where employees feel comfortable and are able to bring up climate concerns, creating consistent pathways and forums for employees to provide feedback to leadership.