Moving Towards Drawdown
Founded in 2014, Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “drawdown”—the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline.
The Drawdown Project launched their first work on climate solutions in 2017: the book Drawdown. Since then, the book has become an important source on climate solutions. Its teachings and arguments have influenced, among other things, commitments, action plans, and strategies in business and other sectors. The book argues that it is possible to mitigate climate change with present-day solutions, and to make it happen, we need to cooperate and share information. If we “draw on humanity’s collective wisdom about practices and technologies that can begin to reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon by mid-century”.
Tools for the Job
Project Drawdown argues that helping the planet starts by including all aspects in the “climate equation” such as reducing sources (bringing emissions to zero), supporting sinks (boosting nature’s carbon cycle), and improving society (equal opportunities for all). The project has developed tools focused on each of these aspects.
In the case of business, Drawdown Solution offers the assistance of research fellows that analyze solutions for each industry or practice. This includes full literature reviews and the building of models to test the impact, cost, and results of given solutions and scenarios. Drawdown Labs provides companies with the tools and needed expertise to achieve climate leadership.
For the general public, the project has an interactive website with several channels where solutions are presented. One of them is “Climate Solutions 101,” which is a compilation of videos in the format of a class that, rather than focusing on the negative message, features innovations and actions, conversations with trusted sources, practical examples, and scientific resources.
The project is constantly doing research in (or on) a wide variety of areas including electricity, agriculture, transportation, and its website contains technical sheets with the description, methodology and discussion for each proposed solution, described as sector summaries.
An example of their sector summary on renewable electricity can be found below.
Electricity efficiency solutions include technologies and practices that reduce demand for electricity generation, literally lightening the load. The two biggest end-users of electricity are buildings and industry, in roughly equal measure. While a home or factory may be the location of efficiency measures, these emissions get counted at the power plant where they are created or avoided, as part of the electricity sector. (See further exploration of buildings and industry below.)
Production of electricity must move away from fossil fuels, as quickly as possible. A spectrum of solutions can help, from small-scale/distributed to large-scale/centralized. Some solutions harvest photons from the sun. Others tap nature’s generous kinetic energy—the movement of wind and water. Still others use an alternate source of heat, such as geothermal or nuclear, for the same basic steam-turbine process.
Improve the System
To enable the transition to renewable electricity production and use, the broader electricity system also needs to evolve and upgrade. Flexible grids for transmission and effective energy storage make it possible to better balance electricity supply with demand.