February 22, 2022

Decisive Climate Moments Call for Bold New Tactics

by Jamie Beck Alexander

One of the most confounding realities of the climate crisis is that two seemingly contradictory facts are simultaneously true: that humanity has at our fingertips the solutions to fix it at the very same time that global greenhouse gas emissions soar higher than ever. 

By now the world has a solid understanding of what the solutions to the climate crisis are. Aggregating, communicating, and accelerating the adoption of these solutions is the reason Project Drawdown exists. But as emissions continue to rise, it’s clear that we haven’t nailed the ‘how.’ How do we scale climate solutions across every sector of the economy so comprehensively and decisively that they permanently displace our current systems—systems that we now know to be incompatible with a livable world? 

Tapping the biggest leverage points we have at our disposal to scale existing climate solutions is now of existential importance. And right now one of these leverage points—federal climate policy, and specifically the climate provisions that were previously housed in the Build Back Better Act— hangs in the balance. And this is why Drawdown Labs, the program I lead at Project Drawdown, recently took out a full-page print ad in The New York Times

Our ad had three key messages. The first one was a reminder to the Times’ 4 million readers that the solutions to the climate crisis already exist today. It’s nearly impossible to build a future we can’t envision, so we wanted to remind a broad swath of the American public that the solutions are already right in front of us. These solutions will not only address climate change but they’ll help us build a healthier, more resilient, and more equitable world. Solutions like shifting electricity production to renewables, supporting indigenous land tenure and forest protection, shifting our means of transportation away from personally-owned vehicles and internal combustion engines, remaking our cities with health, equity, and walkability in mind, addressing food waste and our diets, and so many more

Our second goal was to remind key audiences, namely policymakers and investors, that they are powerful actors in accelerating these solutions. The climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act would provide tax incentives for clean electricity, electric vehicles, clean buildings, advanced energy manufacturing, industrial decarbonization, and more, and would provide millions of good-paying jobs implementing these climate solutions. Whatever final legislative package they come in, these climate provisions have broad Congressional support and are crucial to accelerating needed investment. 

Our final goal of the ad was to highlight the business community’s widespread support for bold climate policy. Why lift up the business voice? Like it or not, corporations hold a lot of political power, and their support can give legislators the confidence to pass bold climate legislation. The 25 companies we invited to join this ad represent over $64 billion in revenue, employ hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and span economic sectors: energy, transportation, food, tech, manufacturing, e-commerce, entertainment, design, apparel, consumer packaged goods, banking, and financial management. Together, these businesses are sending a powerful message: every sector of the economy wants to see bold climate legislation and Congress and the White House must do their part.

This moment of fleeting opportunity for meaningful action calls for us to be bold. And while it may seem unusual for a nonprofit to use their resources to run an advertisement like this, we think that new tactics are crucial to achieving bolder outcomes. As the innovation hub for Project Drawdown, Drawdown Labs exists to experiment with new tactics, especially when so much is on the line. At Project Drawdown, we have considerable access to influential actors across the global economy, and we intend to use this access and network to the fullest extent possible. 

We have climate solutions at our fingertips. We have key leverage points ready to be tapped. And in this critical moment, we can’t leave anything on the table.

This article was originally published by MCJ Climate Voices and is being republished with permission.

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September 19, 2022
Family planning gathering in Malawi
It’s time to advance climate change solutions and human well-being together
by Debbie Aung Din, Christina Kwauk, and Abiba Longwe
In the 50 years since the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment established the important link between the environment and poverty, we have seen remarkable action to protect the planet and improve people’s lives. Unfortunately, these efforts have often taken place independently of each other. Imagine how much more good we could do if the solutions being funded yielded benefits for both climate action and poverty alleviation, while boosting human well-being. Globally, public and private financing tend to focus on either climate action or improving human well-being—defined as people’s ability to access fundamental social, cultural, economic and natural/environmental resources critical for sustaining a decent living standard and living a life they value. However, addressing climate change without attention to human well-being threatens to cut back on years of development progress because of the impacts climate change has on human well-being. Those of us working to advance sustainable development are witnessing firsthand how rising temperatures, drought, flooding and extreme weather are rapidly rewinding hard-won progress in poverty eradication, human development and gender equality. For instance, heat waves and dry spells in Bangladesh are threatening natural resource–based rural livelihoods and creating economic insecurity, which can contribute to increased rates of child, early, and forced marriage and unions, speeding girls’ transitions to adulthood and ending their formal education. And In Malawi, where most people experience poverty and nearly one-third experience extreme poverty, climate change has exacerbated poverty, particularly for women, in recent decades as increasing temperatures and intense rain lead to both drought and flooding. Combined, these have resulted in shorter growing seasons, poor crop yields, food shortages, hunger and the spread of waterborne diseases. In addition, increasingly devastating seasonal flash floods disrupt learning for students as classrooms are used as shelters for displaced people. And intensified climate hazards often exacerbate child labor, especially for children from under-resourced families. We know that there are many readily available and financially viable technologies and practices that offer proven, substantial benefits not only for climate but also for livelihoods, health, food security, education, gender equality, and energy. Funders, philanthropies and decision-makers can help to ensure a brighter future for people and the planet by directing more financing to fund climate solutions that can also be transformational in alleviating poverty and increasing resilience, especially in frontline, climate-vulnerable countries and communities that have contributed the least to the climate crisis while being impacted the most. For example, improving agriculture and agroforestry could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by a hefty 277.6 gigatons between 2020 and 2050. At the same time, it could improve food security and access to water and strengthen resilience to economic shocks. Similarly, fostering equality—specifically, rights-based, voluntary family planning and 12 years of high-quality, universal education—enables women to have more time, skills, and other resources to participate in climate solutions and to engage in productive, income-generating work, including in the green economy. Climate solutions that foster equality can advance human well-being in areas such as maternal and child health, nutrition, gender equality, and resilience. Estimates show that one outcome of fostering equality, slower population growth, could lead to a reduction of almost 70 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions at a global level between 2020 and 2050. Climate financing needs to reflect the reality that climate change, poverty, and human well-being are interconnected by taking a systems approach and focusing on synergistic solutions. For example, support for the world’s 500 million smallholder farm families at the epicenter of poverty and climate change that makes soils, lands, trees, and water more productive could boost income and simultaneously sequester carbon. As practitioners who work to enhance human well-being, we see a growing nexus among climate mitigation, climate adaptation, and poverty reduction. We can make much more progress by investing in climate change solutions that do double duty as strategies for improving human well-being. And donors and innovative finance structures can better meet the needs of people in countries most impacted by the climate crisis by supporting low-carbon pathways to development that also boost human well-being. Debbie Aung Din. Christina Kwauk, and Abiba Longwe are members of the Drawdown Lift Advisory Council.
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August 15, 2022
waves crashing onshore
Askov Finlayson, Etsy and Lyft join Drawdown Labs’ groundbreaking climate solutions consortium
Five new implementation partners—Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Evergreen Action, Rewiring America, Seneca Solar, and The Outdoor Policy Outfit—also join the effort to turn the tide on climate change San Francisco—Askov Finlayson, Etsy, and Lyft have joined a major climate solutions consortium led by Drawdown Labs—Project Drawdown’s private-sector testing ground for strategies to accelerate the safe and equitable adoption of climate solutions—as new business partners. Drawdown Labs business partners work to engage their employees in climate solutions and achieve a new bar for corporate climate leadership—meeting regularly, sharing insights, asking critical questions, and enjoying full access to Project Drawdown’s science-based resources and expertise. The three companies join Allbirds, Aspiration, Copia, General Mills, Google, IDEO, Impossible Foods, Intuit, Lime, LinkedIn, R&DE Stanford Dining, Trane Technologies, and Unity in Drawdown Labs’ signature initiative to mobilize the power of corporations to solve the climate crisis.  Five organizations have also signed onto the initiative as “implementation partners”—entities that will help businesses achieve their climate mitigation goals. They are Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Evergreen Action, Rewiring America, Seneca Solar, and The Outdoor Policy Outfit.  Implementation partners help Drawdown Labs work with its business partners and other businesses committed to helping the world achieve drawdown. Each is an expert in some aspect of Drawdown Labs’ work, such as advancing climate policy, shifting to climate-friendly investments and integrating climate justice into emissions reductions strategy. These new collaborators will bring their knowledge and operational capacity to help execute and enhance Drawdown Labs’ work to align the private sector with drawdown—the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change.  Drawdown Labs business partners commit to rigorous greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets; aspire to conform with the Drawdown-Aligned Business Framework; and pledge not to lobby against climate action, policy or science. They use their resources, influence, employees, community members, and customers to help the world reach drawdown. Implementation partners help Drawdown Labs business partners and the broader business community pull key climate leverage points and rapidly accelerate the deployment of climate solutions. They also collaborate on creating and promoting resources to elevate private-sector climate action. “Drawdown Labs partners are leading the transformation of their sectors—not simply playing at the edges of real change,” said Drawdown Labs Director Jamie Alexander in announcing the new partnerships. “They commit to challenge status-quo private sector leadership for faster, equitable climate action at unprecedented scale.” 
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