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. LEGAL Governance Work with the board’s compensation committee to tie C-suite compensation to achievement of the company’s climate targets. Work with external counsel Work with law firms that are committed to offering their clients services that “align and facilitate client decarbonization” and do not work with fossil fuel or other extractive industries. (Take note of the best and worst actors.) Legal agreements Adopt contractual language that requires taking into consideration climate risks and impacts. MARKETING Internal communication Normalize the climate conversation. By crafting a new narrative within your own company and team, you can more easily do the same for your customers and clients. Customers Find creative ways to nudge consumers to take their own climate action. Campaigns Choose creative agencies that have robust climate initiatives, and ask all agencies what they’re doing on sustainability and climate. PROCUREMENT Suppliers Work with the operations team to develop company policies that give preference to sustainable suppliers and require suppliers to adopt science-based emissions reduction targets—and create penalties for noncompliance. (See and use as a template Salesforce’s supplier agreement). Data Invest in systems to gather, store, and utilize data on customer use to develop more sustainable products and processes. Design If your company has its own name brand products, collaborate with designers to develop products with low-carbon materials that are optimized for circularity (repairable, upcyclable, and recyclable). SALES AND OTHER CLIENT-FACING ROLES Managing sales Institute incentives based on sustainability targets (for example, providing bonuses if a salesperson sells to a certain number of companies with science-based climate targets). Pricing and fees Work with the sustainability and finance teams to integrate the cost of carbon into your products and services (a ‘carbon fee’), and reinvest that cost into emissions reduction and sequestration. Engaging customers and clients If your company serves clients: serve more clients that work in climate advocacy (consider doing some pro bono work), and encourage clients to consider climate implications as they make their own business decisions. Once you look beyond traditional leadership and sustainability roles, you will see limitless opportunities for tangible climate action throughout your business. To learn more about how every employee can help your company become a climate leader, see Drawdown Labs.
Feature | December 2, 2022
Carrying on the COP27 conversation
Three members of the Drawdown Lift team traveled to COP27 in November to represent Project Drawdown and promote climate solutions that generate tangible co-benefits for human well-being. Lift team members participated in and organized panel presentations; engaged with three Lift Advisory Council members, one Project Drawdown Board member, and multiple collaborating organizations; and met with leaders from several country delegations, including Bangladesh, Niger, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The team published three articles during and after COP27 that highlight different aspects of the conversations and key outcomes from the meeting, particularly around the topics of climate justice, gender equality, and loss and damage, all of which are relevant for Drawdown Lift's work. In "Project Drawdown: COP27 must answer calls for accelerated action and climate justice," Drawdown Lift program coordinator Carissa Patrone Maikuri called for an end to "siloed thinking." Instead, she wrote at Race to Resilience, we must "address multiple global crises together" with the well-being of people and planet front and center. "Beyond 8 billion: Focus on women, not population, for reproductive and climate justice," centers the role of gender equity in climate solutions. "We need to turn away from dramatic headlines about the number of people on the planet and instead focus on the actual issue driving the continued rise of humans on Earth—a lack of rights, for women and girls in particular," I wrote in the piece, which published at Race to Resilience on November 14, the day for which gender was the COP27 theme. "COP27: Balancing historic decisions and alarming shortcomings," by Patrone Maikuri and Drawdown Lift research manager Yusuf Jameel, gave a shoutout to "a first small, yet symbolic, step" the international conference took to advance climate justice: creating a mechanism for paying for climate-related losses encumbered by countries most affected by, yet often least responsible for, climate change. I invite and encourage you to check out these thoughtful essays as you consider how you personally, and we as a society, might work to redress injustices while building a more secure future for ourselves and generations to come.
Op-ed | November 22, 2022
In pursuit of a just and equitable future for all: 7 key takeaways from COP27
Project Drawdown engaged with myriad colleagues and partner institutions from around the world at COP27. We are pleased to share these reflections from Drawdown Lift’s director, Kristen P. Patterson, who leads our work to prioritize climate change solutions that generate multiple benefits for boosting well-being, strengthening resilience, and contributing to poverty alleviation. The annual United Nations climate meeting wrapped up recently in Egypt. As we reflect upon the summit, I would like to share seven thoughts about #COP27, with an eye towards three topics that are critical for a just and equitable future for all—climate justice, gender equality, and emergency brake solutions. 1) Loss and damage - High income countries arrived at COP27 like my teenager with headphones on—clueless about what the rest of the world had been saying for months, namely that wealthy countries must set up a fund to deal with climate impacts like floods and droughts in low-and middle-income countries. The world hasn’t acted quickly enough on mitigation, nor on adaptation, so now we must add reparations to the mix. Major kudos to the negotiators, including government staff as well as NGO representatives, from developing countries who achieved this outcome. Yes, agreeing to create a fund (akin to the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund) is just a first step. But it's an important one. 2) Women's leadership - We should all be in awe of Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's minister for climate change, who I was honored to have met briefly at COP27. She led a group of 134 (!) countries that negotiated the loss and damage outcome. Having more women in the halls of COP27 and at the negotiation table is critical. 3) Gender equality - We desperately need the skills of all women to solve the climate crisis—regardless of whether they are from rural or urban areas, or are rich or poor. Imagine if women had been more prominent in climate negotiations or held more leadership positions over the past three decades. As we mark the 8 billion milestone this month, full bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and quality universal education are in fact key pillars of climate justice and adaptation; we can and should do more to integrate reproductive rights into climate. 4) Methane - Curbing methane—a fast-acting GHG that is responsible for nearly 45 percent of current net warming (0.5 C out of 1.1C)—is absolutely essential. We need to act decisively to reduce methane by 30% by 2030. By winning the sprint on methane, we give ourselves a bit more time to complete the marathon on other long-acting GHGs like carbon dioxide by 2050.
Press Release | November 17, 2022
Discover 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 the series’ second edition—Drawdown’s Neighborhood: Atlanta—is now available online! We invite you to join host and Project Drawdown director of storytelling and engagement Matt Scott on a journey to “pass the mic” to nine climate heroes whose stories often go unheard, and elevate climate action—and stories about careers, race, gender, sexuality, mental health, personal and community resilience, family, and more—in the process. The series’ second round of documentary shorts showcases the Atlanta, Georgia, which played a pivotal role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and today maintains a strong global reputation for social activism, cultural diversity, and economic innovation. In its climate action plan, the City of Atlanta has recognized the need for change, acknowledging “the risk that climate change poses” and asserting that “local action is needed to reduce the City of Atlanta’s contribution to the problem of climate change and adapt to its current and future effects.” In response to the impacts of climate change, people from all over the city are mobilizing to fuel a green future – leveraging Atlanta’s innovative spirit and rich tradition of civic engagement to achieve much-needed change. This series showcases the diverse “Neighborhood” of people working in Atlanta and surrounding communities to help the world reach drawdown, the future point when levels of greenhouse gases start to steadily decline. 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 Atlanta 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’ll find your superpower with Demetrius Milling, whose work with the Love is Love Cooperative Farm propels a vision for a just, healthy, and sustainable world powered by local community collaboration—a model to be replicated as we build the future. You’ll turn the page and embrace change with Adam Hicks, who simultaneously fights food insecurity and climate change by diverting food waste from farms to help the local community access fresh fruits and vegetables—helping to draw down climate emissions while addressing hunger through millions of servings of fruits and vegetables made accessible via donations to local food banks and shelters. You’ll ask questions and find answers with Blair Beasley, who supports research for Drawdown Georgia, a first-of-its-kind, state-centered initiative to crowd-solve for climate change by focusing on five high-impact climate solutions areas of electricity, transportation, buildings and materials, food and agriculture, and land sinks to drastically cut carbon emissions. The series also includes: Eri Saikawa, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at Emory University Kendrick Kelsey, Reuse Center Associate at the Lifecycle Building Center Robin Okunowo, Program Coordinator with Captain Planet Foundation’s Planeteer Alliance Steve Place, Horticulturist II with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design Tonya Hicks, President and CEO of Power Solutions Inc. Tylesha Giddings, Technical Project Manager at Southface Institute Feeling inspired? To unleash your inner climate superhero, visit Drawdown’s Neighborhood to discover solutions and take action today.
Press Release | November 15, 2022
Project Drawdown launches world-class science team
Four world-class researchers are joining Project Drawdown as inaugural members of our new science team. Their mission: to advance the science of how to effectively implement climate solutions; to advance the public discourse on climate solutions; and to collaborate with leading companies, funders, and organizations to accelerate action to quickly, safely, and equitably halt climate change. The four, James Gerber, Ph.D.; Kate Marvel, Ph.D.; Amanda D. Smith, Ph.D.; and Paul West, Ph.D., will join Project Drawdown over the next four months. The team members will conduct frontline research on critical topics related to climate solutions, helping Project Drawdown build roadmaps for their implementation. They also will serve as public-facing subject matter experts on climate solutions, providing thought leadership to inform science-based decisions by policymakers, investors, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and others around the world.
November 3, 2022
Supercharging National Climate Plans
Climate solutions and efforts to improve the well-being of people experiencing extreme poverty can—and must—be complementary. How can African countries use their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to chart a path forward that not only achieves low-carbon development and builds climate change resilience but also helps lift people out of extreme poverty? Project Drawdown’s landmark 2022 Climate-Poverty Connections report provides compelling evidence that 28 climate solutions (Figure 1) can simultaneously generate substantial human well-being benefits (Figure 2) for rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; 26 of these 28 solutions are applicable for the countries in this analysis.
Video | October 24, 2022
Drawdown Lift’s latest video explores how climate solutions can also boost well-being
Did you know that climate mitigation solutions that contribute to increasing human well-being, alleviating extreme poverty, addressing inequities, and advancing adaptation are at hand? Building off of the key findings contained within its landmark 2022 Climate-Poverty Connections report, the Drawdown Lift program is excited to announce the official release of a new video—“Climate Solutions that Boost Human Well-Being in Africa and South Asia”—which illuminates various pathways for policymakers and decision-makers to harmonize policies and align funding to address climate change and poverty synergistically across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. With its release timed to coincide with International Day of Climate Action 2022, this new Project Drawdown video aims to inform, inspire, and engage influential leaders and institutions to advance policy discussions about climate solutions that can substantially contribute to socioeconomic development priorities and promote low-carbon pathways to growth. With the COP27 climate summit kicking off in Egypt in early November, the video also serves to more broadly expose high-level delegates from low- and middle-income countries in Africa and South Asia to Drawdown Lift’s research on the climate-poverty nexus and emphasizes the powerful role that climate mitigation solutions can play in improving quality of life in some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries.
October 24, 2022
Climate solutions in the news
What if you could access news stories from around the world describing how non-governmental organizations, governments, businesses, and academic institutions are working to solve the climate crisis? Now you can, with the Solutions Journalism Network’s Climate Solutions Story Collections. Grouped around Project Drawdown themes, these collections feature hundreds of stories of climate solutions in action—stories you and others can use to inspire and guide your own efforts to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in your workplaces, community, and home. Find these collections and related resources on the Solutions Journalism Network’s Teaching Climate Solutions page.
October 13, 2022
Climate Week: Now what?
Between keynote talks, sold-out panel discussions and early looks at some new content, Project Drawdown was proud to bring climate solutions to the main stage at Climate Week NYC last month. But now that the festivities are over … what’s next? One of the obvious criticisms of Climate Week and other climate conferences is that they encourage thousands of people—ourselves included—to descend upon remote destinations, with all the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions that go along with it. Look, nothing compares to experiencing the palpable energy in a room during a vibrant discussion, or the deep trust and alliances that can be built between people and movements when they happen across a table instead of behind a screen. But we need to make sure that all those big climate announcements and pats on the back lead to tangible climate action, or we’re exacerbating the problem we’re working to solve. At Drawdown Labs, we advocate for stronger accountability from our private sector partners, urging the businesses we work with to set measurable targets and be transparent about how they’re measuring up against their climate promises. So in that spirit, we’re sharing some of what we launched during Climate Week—and some ways you can hold us accountable to them. Align climate funding with a Drawdown Roadmap: At the Nest Summit, Project Drawdown executive director Jonathan Foley presented new, cutting-edge work to align funding decisions made by philanthropists and investors with Earth’s “carbon portfolio.” By leveraging the best science, we can better identify when, how, and where to direct capital to fund strategic climate solutions. Hold us accountable: In the coming months, look for the launch of our new network of philanthropists and investors who will work with us to better align catalytic capital with strategic climate solutions—making funding decisions that are guided by science and rooted in our planetary carbon portfolio. Normalize drawdown-aligned business climate leadership. In a lively panel discussion, six climate advocates came together to illustrate how businesses can go beyond “net zero” to helping the world achieve drawdown quickly and safely, and with equity and justice at the heart of the transition. Hold us accountable: By early 2023, we will make specific metrics for each aspect of the Drawdown Aligned Business Framework publicly available. By the end of 2023, we aim to align each of our formal Drawdown Labs business partners with this framework. Equip employees to take tangible climate action at work. At the Marketplace of the Future, we soft-launched our Job Function Action Guides, equipping employees in seven common corporate job functions to accelerate and expand their company’s climate action far beyond the sustainability team. Hold us accountable: By the end of 2022, we aim to get our climate action checklists into the hands of at least 1,000 corporate employees and begin tracking their impacts. In early 2023, we’ll release action guides for at least three new job functions. Galvanize new forms of climate leadership in new sectors. Project Drawdown hosted a panel discussion with the lead vocalist of the Lumineers, a retired NHL hockey player, and others in the live events space to explore how cultural icons and institutions can move climate leadership faster and reach new audiences. Hold us accountable: By the middle of next year, Project Drawdown and our partners will publish a crosswalk of the Drawdown Aligned Business framework and the live events space, identifying key leverage points in live events that can help the world achieve drawdown. Did your company or institution make a climate pledge/promise/commitment during Climate Week? If so, make it count. And think about how your role might contribute to helping them get there and helping the broader world achieve drawdown, quickly, safely, and equitably.