March 29, 2023
New IPCC report highlights urgent need to advance climate solutions and development simultaneously
Last week’s release of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report distills almost a decade of the latest climate science into an urgent, systemic call to action — imploring us to mobilize resources to tackle climate change and poverty at the same time if we are to ensure a just and sustainable future. Thankfully, climate mitigation solutions already exist for tackling both of these grand challenges of our time simultaneously. The synthesis report shows that 1) global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase despite international pledges and 2) we are almost out of time to limit warming to 1.5 ℃. Pathways still exist to avert breaching this level of warming. They will require a holistic approach that not only mitigates, adapts to, and accounts for loss and damages from climate change but also provides credible development pathways for low- and middle-income countries, a cornerstone of climate justice. The report also makes clear that mitigation activities will be necessary in both high-income and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There is an unequal burden placed on LMICs, recognizing that they have contributed the least to historical emissions. LMICs not only need to pursue mitigation and adaptation simultaneously, but they must also be able to align their necessary development with their climate goals. Ensuring LMICs have an accessible pathway to sustainable development is both a matter of climate justice as well as a preventive measure against exacerbating health issues and future loss and damages; as the report notes, those experiencing extreme poverty are the most vulnerable to climate hazards. With more than 700 million people experiencing extreme poverty worldwide, supporting locally-led mitigation and adaptation efforts must catapult to the top of the priority list for the global community. The 2022 IPCC summary report on mitigation, which the synthesis report drew upon, indicated that mitigation activities that were implemented “in the context of sustainable development, equity, and poverty eradication, and rooted in the development aspirations of the societies within which they take place, will be more acceptable, durable and effective.” In other words, climate and development must be addressed synergistically. A previous IPCC summary report on adaptation and vulnerability, another body of work that the synthesis report drew from, identified climate change as a significant barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not only does climate change limit available resources needed to achieve the SDGs, but currently communities and countries are experiencing climate-induced impacts to local infrastructure, livelihoods, health and resilience efforts. Climate vulnerable communities — which typically lack access to vital resources to prepare for and build back from disasters — increasingly face more severe and/or frequent extreme weather events that pose great challenges to their development. The global community must begin prioritizing climate solutions that also address poverty and well-being in order to leverage the most secure footing for the future. Project Drawdown has identified 28 climate mitigation solutions with co-benefits in areas such as energy, food security, income and work, water and sanitation, health, gender equality, education, access to networks, housing, social equity, peace and justice, and political voice. These co-benefits will be essential to recognize in climate initiatives — especially in LMICs — to advance and achieve interconnected international goals such as those set out in the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. The 28 solutions include five key sectors: 1) improving agriculture and agroforestry, 2) protecting and restoring ecosystems, 3) adopting clean cooking, 4) providing clean electricity, and 5) fostering equality. In addition to the co-benefits listed above, these initiatives could reduce or sequester greenhouse gasses by 691.4 gigatons of CO2-eq over 30 years. Furthermore, these solutions are particularly applicable to rural communities in Africa and South Asia where 85 percent of the world’s population experiencing extreme poverty reside. There is an enormous opportunity for properly designed and implemented policies for low-carbon and resilient growth that can also help address poverty and inequality, enabling people to live healthier, more prosperous lives. At its core, addressing climate, poverty, and human well-being simultaneously is a matter of climate justice. As defined by the Climate Justice Playbook, “climate justice means advancing climate solutions that link human rights and development in a human-centered approach, placing the needs, voices and leadership of those who are most impacted at the forefront.” Climate justice must be an integral part of a societal transition. We can no longer afford to take a siloed approach to mitigation, adaptation, development, and justice — they must all become part of a holistic, integrated approach. The latest AR6 synthesis report will be the last we hear of IPCC assessments until just two years before 2030. This report demands that we seize the opportunity to mobilize resources to address both climate and poverty immediately and urgently, as the challenges will only grow exponentially larger in the future. Implementing climate solutions with proven co-benefits for poverty alleviation and human well-being offers our best chance at achieving a sustainable and thriving future for current and future generations.
March 21, 2023
Women leading climate action through agriculture, education, and health
On March 9, Project Drawdown’s Drawdown Lift program hosted a lively discussion with the Clean Cooking Alliance about how women are leading on climate action and climate justice and implementing solutions that strengthen adaptation, boost human well-being, and mitigate future emissions. As a continuation of International Women’s Day, we embraced equity, focusing on two of the most defining challenges of our time—climate change and poverty. Watch the recording here. Advancing gender equality is central to ensuring that our global community thrives and addresses the climate crisis. Women are problem solvers and central to guiding the world to reach drawdown, boosting resilience, and creating systemic change. Women must be represented in all levels of decision-making, and our agency—as leaders, activists, educators, and entrepreneurs—should not be underestimated. We also acknowledge our allies who continue to ensure that we have a seat at the table and that our voices are heard and valued. Moderated by Wanjira Mathai, community builder and managing director of Africa & Global Partnerships with World Resources Institute, the event featured four amazing panelists who shared wisdom and tangible examples from the fields of agriculture, education, clean cooking, health, and climate justice. Panelists included: Makandi Laiboni, leader of the digital team for One Acre Fund’s Kenya’s program, Tupande, which designs and implements the organization’s digital vision and strategy directly for smallholder farmers. Natasha Lwanda, the former national chairperson of the CAMFED Association, who uses her intimate experience of poverty and exclusion to support vulnerable young women and girls to become influential change-makers in Zambia. Patience Alifo, the co-founder of Econexus Ventures Limited, a Ghanaian-based biotechnology social enterprise commercializing sustainable biofuel and waste-to-energy production in Africa. Sohanur Rahman, the chief executive of a youth-led organization called Protiki Jubi Sangsad, or Bangladesh Model Youth Parliament, who also coordinates the largest youth network, YouthNet for Climate Justice, in Bangladesh. Each panelist had a different reason for why they were inspired to do the work they do, including experiencing extreme weather events and gender inequality firsthand, identifying major gender gaps that could lead to a pathway to prosperity, or advancing their personal commitments to give back to the community. We know that climate change threatens decades of progress and exacerbates pre-existing inequities—particularly in countries most vulnerable to climate change who have contributed the least to it—but solutions are at hand. Building off Project Drawdown’s Climate-Poverty Connections report, panelists spoke to several of the 28 mitigation solutions that also substantially contribute to boosting human well-being, strengthening resilience, and alleviating poverty.
February 15, 2023
Unlock your inner climate superhero
Drawdown’s Neighborhood, presented by Project Drawdown, is a series of short documentaries featuring the stories of climate solutions heroes, city by city. We are extremely excited to share with you that following the 2022 release of episodes profiling Pittsburgh and Atlanta, the series’ third edition—“Drawdown’s Neighborhood: Twin Cities”—is now available online! Join host and Project Drawdown director of storytelling and engagement Matt Scott as he passes the mic to nine climate heroes whose stories often go unheard, and elevates climate action—and stories about careers, race, gender, sexuality, mental health, personal and community resilience, family, and more—in the process. The series’ third round of documentary shorts showcases Minnesota’s Twin Cities, located on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Native lands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe People. While Minneapolis and St. Paul are renowned for their vibrant arts scene, rich cultural diversity, and natural beauty, they are also home to a robust ecosystem of people and organizations deeply committed to working on climate solutions. In the targets outlined in its current climate action plan, the City of Minneapolis is aiming by 2025 to cut down greenhouse gas emissions by nearly one-third, generate 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources, and increase rates of recycling, composting, and bicycle commuting. Meanwhile, St. Paul's current climate action and resilience plan aims to have all city operations be carbon neutral by 2030 with further plans for the entire city to go carbon neutral by 2050 through greater use of natural infrastructure and implementation of a wide range of green-friendly initiatives. “Drawdown’s Neighborhood: Twin Cities” profiles local climate superheroes who are helping fuel progress in pursuit of these goals to help lay the foundation for a healthy, just, and vibrant future for all. Day in and day out, each of the interviewees are doing their part to help the world reach drawdown—the future point when levels of greenhouse gases start to steadily decline. And each story serves as a bridge between climate solutions and people like you looking to tap into their own superpowers to stop climate change. The Drawdown’s Neighborhood short documentaries touch on a range of themes used to inspire action. Themes include pathways to climate careers; collaboration across silos, including geographies, sectors, and ideologies; diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice; hope and opportunity; individual action paired with systems change; and personal and community resilience. The nine stories from the Twin Cities center the voices of women, Black people, people of color, immigrants, and others who are often not represented in the climate dialogue and yet are commonly most immediately and severely vulnerable to the impacts of climate catastrophe. You will be inspired to discover your own climate superpower with Bob Blake, a member of Minnesota’s Red Lake Tribal Band of Ojibwe Indians whose vision and leadership is advancing the region’s renewable energy transition while empowering tribal nations to lead the way toward a clean energy future. Put yourself in the driver’s seat on the road to a greener future with Yesenia Robles Pelayo, who manages fleet logistics for a non-profit all-electric community car share program while working directly with community members who might otherwise not have access to affordable, climate-friendly transportation. Turbocharge your pursuit of climate justice with Emily Mauter, whose work with Repowered—one of the most prominent collectors of e-waste in Minnesota—is not only creating new opportunities for electronics through increased recycling, but also providing workforce development and reintegration opportunities for people who have experienced incarceration. The series also includes: Jose Alvillar Hinojosa, Statewide Director of Youth Programs with Unidos MN Whitney Terrill, Former Environmental Justice Program Manager with Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light Alboury Ndiaye, Sustainability Specialist with the Waste Wise Foundation Crispin (Cris) Phillips, Urban Agriculture Manager for Appetite for Change Jan Hagerman, Manager of New Brighton ReStore at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Jothsna Harris, Founder and Principal at Change Narrative Feeling inspired? To unleash your inner climate superhero, visit Drawdown’s Neighborhood to discover solutions and take action today.