December 22, 2021

Drawdown Labs year in review: accelerating the moment of drawdown

byDrawdown Labs team

To be a business climate leader in the 21st century, doing incrementally “less harm,” relying on offsets, and making far-off emissions reductions commitments no longer make the grade. And while the U.S. Congress repeatedly fails to lead on climate, the private sector must dramatically level up its ambition and action. We need a new definition of business climate leadership, one that not only dramatically reduces emissions, but also mobilizes capital, skills, and technologies—as well political and cultural influence—to scale climate solutions, quickly, safely, and equitably in the broader world. 

Drawdown Labs engages businesses, investors, and philanthropies to take bolder and more expansive climate action. Below are key highlights of our 2021 work and impact.

This year: We worked to make every job a climate job.

  • We published Climate Solutions at Work, a how-to guide for employees poised to help companies take bolder climate action—encouraging every employee to find their inroad. The guide introduced a framework for the drawdown-aligned business, an ambitious new north star for the private sector. We presented this new framework to over 700 employees (across hundreds of businesses) in the last two months alone, and shared with many more via social and press (enjoy features in Fast Company and GreenBiz). 
  • We built community and shared tangible steps to grow climate engagement at work. In a collaboration with The All We Can Save Project, we launched an expanded edition of All We Can Save Circles, specifically designed to help employees foster dialogue and action around climate in their workplaces. To celebrate the launch, our organizations hosted a virtual event with 450 attendees across dozens of organizations and industries. (Join our Slack community, today!) 
  • Collaborating with our partners to develop job-specific playbooks for climate action, including a guide for marketing teams at a large tech company to integrate climate action into their jobs.

We spread the word about climate solutions by:

  • Advocating for climate action—and the private sector’s role in scaling solutions—far and wide: on CNN, The Weather Channel, and the Second Transition and Your World, Your Money podcasts. We also publicly challenged companies in various outlets, while we supported our committed business partners to accelerate their action.
  • Facilitating crucial knowledge sharing of solutions and bringing in the experts. Our partner Google presented to the Drawdown Labs consortium on the impact of their 24/7 Carbon Free Energy (CFE) initiative, inspiring others to learn more and take related action at their own companies through the recently launched Carbon Free Energy Compact.
  • Providing insights to dozens of philanthropies, startups, and impact investors on the most impactful climate solutions, helping build awareness of and shape strategies for—much-needed climate financing.

We convened private-sector partners to help galvanize outsized impact by:

  • Partnering with ENGIE Impact, Rare, Count Us In, and Netflix's "Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet” to collaborate on a new platform for individuals to identify the solutions that resonate most in their own lives and calculate the positive impacts those choices make. Project Drawdown’s own Chad Frischmann and Crystal Chissell also published an article on individual and household climate action, encouraging adoption of these solutions.
  • Bringing together Intuit, Aspiration, and Copia to launch Intuit’s Climate Action Marketplace, enabling small businesses to take climate action. 75 percent of small businesses believe environmental sustainability is important to the future of the economy, and because small businesses comprise 90 percent of the global business population, Intuit’s new marketplace is harnessing a massive and untapped opportunity for collective climate action.

We utilized private-sector influence to help the world achieve drawdown by:

  • Sending a message to Congress and state legislators that the private sector supports bold climate policy. Drawdown Labs business partners signed a joint letter in support of the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act—a crucial piece of climate legislation that passed in the House in November with the help of vocal private sector support, despite experiencing serious setbacks in the Senate this week. We also worked with our partner Allbirds to express public support for California’s Senate Bill 260, the Climate Corporate Accountability Act, which would require all U.S.-based businesses in California with over $1 billion in gross annual revenue to report their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and set science-based emissions reduction targets. 

In 2022, you can help expand our work to leverage the influence of the private sector and make every job a climate job.

  1. Read Climate Solutions at Work, the employee guide to the drawdown-aligned business 
  2. Start a workplace-focused All We Can Save Circle
  3. Sign up for our newsletter
  4. Support the work of Project Drawdown 

Stay tuned for more from Drawdown Labs in the new year.

More Insights

December 9, 2022
Employee climate action
To lead on climate action, engage your employees—all of them
by Aiyana Bodi
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.
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Feature  |  December 2, 2022
Carrying on the COP27 conversation
by Kristen P. Patterson
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.  
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Op-ed  |  November 22, 2022
COP27 photo from Egypt
In pursuit of a just and equitable future for all: 7 key takeaways from COP27
by Kristen P. Patterson
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.
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