July 25, 2023
Reflections from Bonn: Climate negotiations must face reality and rebuild credibility
Last month, Project Drawdown policy advisor Dan Jasper attended climate negotiations in Bonn to promote climate solutions that also improve human well-being. Hosted by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the negotiations in Bonn provided a space for technical conversations in the lead-up to COP28. Sitting in a surreal daze, I couldn’t help but look back and forth between the conference screen and my phone. On the conference screen, delegates argued about the importance of including historical emissions data in the upcoming Global Stocktake report (the first assessment of how far we’ve come since the Paris Agreement). One delegate chided the suggestion that the data be included, stating it would be “confusing for the public.” On my phone screen, texts from friends back home in Washington, D.C., with chilling pictures of the wildfire smoke blanketing the National Mall and iconic monuments. One text from a friend in New York offered an orange view from her hotel room; the text read simply, “Our world is dying.” This seemed to contradict the delegate’s point. Climate change is visible now; it’s no longer hidden by the depth of science, it’s a lived reality for much of the planet. The dual screens before me painted a clear picture: The focus of these talks must shift to urgent, scalable solutions for people and the planet, or these forums will lose all buy-in from many countries and the public. That scene is, unfortunately, indicative of the confusing lack of progress made in Bonn this year. Parties (read “countries”) failed to even agree on an agenda until the second to last day of the two-week conference. While conversations carried on under provisional agendas for subsidiary bodies, the clash over the program reveals a widening chasm between countries that want to focus on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (mainly high-income countries, or HICs) and those that want to focus on adapting as well as dealing with the losses and damages that climate change has already brought for many of the world’s most vulnerable (mainly low- and middle-income countries, or LMICs).
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.
January 24, 2023
Drawdown Science profile: Yusuf Jameel
This article is the third in a series introducing the members of Project Drawdown’s new science team. Yusuf Jameel joined Project Drawdown in 2021 as a research manager for Drawdown Lift. In January 2023 he transitioned to the Drawdown Science team as associate scientist, data science. A multidisciplinary scientist with experience in water resources, public health, data analytics, and science communication, he’s passionate about finding solutions to climate change and bridging the gap between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Yusuf obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Please welcome Yusuf as he shares his thoughts on growing up on the banks of the Ganges River, enhancing human well-being through the adoption of climate solutions, porcupine hair, and more. Q: When people ask you what you do with Project Drawdown, what do you tell them? A. As a member of the science team, I work on climate solutions using my experience in data analysis, especially on solutions that also address the food–energy–water nexus. I also work on translating the science in a way that makes it widely accessible. Q: Of all of the things you could be doing, why did you choose to join Project Drawdown? A: Project Drawdown is on a mission to actually address the biggest problem the world is facing today, climate change. I was really impressed by the book. It was the first to lay out that yes, we can address climate change—it's not just about gloom and doom, it’s also about opportunity. Project Drawdown addresses climate in a way that’s multidimensional, promotes the best science, addresses the different audiences, and passes the mic. That really motivates me. Q: What do you consider some of the biggest obstacles to implementing and scaling up climate solutions? A: First is unlocking the finance to fund climate solutions globally. We need capital from the private sector, from banks divesting from fossil fuels, and we need to invest in green solutions. Another challenge is politics. We need to think more altruistically. This is a global challenge requiring everyone to join hands, yet it has not been the case so far. The good news is, public perception is changing. Hopefully politics will change, and more capital will be funneled into climate solutions. Q: OK, time for a break. What’s your favorite food? A: I would go with my comfort food, and that’s biryani. It’s a big tradition in South Asian countries, and if you ask anyone in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, biryani is probably one of the top dishes. It’s not the healthiest dish, but it’s just so comforting. Q: I’m sure you have many, but can you tell us about one superpower you bring to this job? A: I’m a jack of all trades. Whether it’s high-level thinking, brainstorming ideas, or actually doing the work, I’m comfortable doing it all. I’m also adaptable. If a situation requires me to step up and take the lead I can, or I can step back and follow. Q: What's a childhood experience that relates to the work you're doing today? A: I grew up on the banks of the River Ganges. Every now and then there would be flooding. As a result, many people would go through an annual cycle of losing crops and be entrenched in a cycle of poverty, unable to get out. This had a profound effect on me. When I started reading about climate change and seeing flooding events become more and more intense, I recognized the need to address climate and development holistically. Q: What’s your favorite Drawdown Solution? A: There are so many of them! I really like Distributed Solar Photovoltaics and Reduced Food Waste, but my favorite is Clean Cooking. I think that solution can revolutionize the lives of billions of people in the world, especially young girls. It not only addresses climate but also vastly improves health, addresses gender equality, and opens up economic opportunities. If we can implement clean cooking and distributed solar, we’ll see huge changes in the lives of billions of people globally. Q: Time for another break. If you were a nonhuman animal, what animal would you be? A: As a kid I had short hair that was like vertical hair, as if I had had an electric shock. So many of my friends called me Porcupine. People would rub my hair all the time as it felt like velvet. Now I keep my hair long. Q: What gives you hope? A: I derive my hope from two things. First, we’re rapidly advancing technology—a lot of people from across the world are putting their effort into finding and implementing the best and most important solutions to address climate change. Second, when I was at COP27, I saw that young people are really leading the movement. That gives me hope that we can do meaningful work on this very important but challenging issue. Q: Anything else you’d like to share? A: I like nature. I especially like mountains. This is something I realized very late in life, maybe because I grew up in cities with very little nature around. When I moved to Utah, I started going to the mountains. I realized how peaceful and how nice it is, and I can’t not talk about it. As human societies are getting more urbanized, a lot of us, especially young people who live in large metropolises, are cut off from nature. And I hope they reconnect with nature. We need to appreciate nature and biodiversity much more than we do. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. We need to love it, respect it, and protect it.
October 17, 2022
Climate solutions and well-being in Africa and South Asia
In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, climate mitigation solutions that boost human well-being, contribute to poverty alleviation, address inequities, and advance adaptation are at hand. This brief video offers a quick look how policymakers, decision-makers, and funders can harmonize policies and align funding to address both climate change and poverty together. To learn more, explore Drawdown Lift’s landmark report Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for Synergistic solutions at the Intersection of Planetary and Human Well-Being.
November 7, 2022
Untapped potential: Climate solutions contribute to gender equality, well-being, and poverty alleviation
Interested in how climate change solutions contribute to gender equality and social inclusion, human well-being, poverty alleviation, adaptation, and planetary health? In this compelling video, Project Drawdown, CARE-WWF Alliance, Population Council, and Population Institute's FP/Earth Project provide valuable insights as part of a Planetary Health Alliance annual meeting side event discussion. Learn how important co-benefits can help advance the adoption of climate solutions, benefiting people and planet alike.
December 14, 2022
Drawdown Lift: The year in review
2022 was a busy year for Drawdown Lift, which focuses on promoting climate solutions that generate multiple benefits for poverty alleviation. From publishing a first-of-its-kind report to meeting with officials and civil society leaders and presenting at COP27, Drawdown Lift bridged important gaps between the climate and sustainable development fields. Here are the highlights. In March, the Drawdown Lift team published a landmark report, Climate–Poverty Connections: Opportunities for synergistic solutions at the intersection of planetary and human well-being. The report provides concrete evidence of how climate change solutions can contribute to alleviating multiple dimensions of poverty in rural communities in Africa and South Asia. The report highlights 28 climate solutions that leaders and practitioners in low- and middle-income countries can prioritize as they address climate impacts, advance sustainable development, and pursue renewable energy pathways. The report was presented to a wide range of climate experts and climate-focused development professionals representing climate finance institutions, multilateral and bilateral development institutions, philanthropies, impact investors, NGOs, and more. Officials, civil society leaders, and climate experts across the world lauded the usefulness and timeliness of the report. “The findings outlined in the report are really important to our work,” remarked Mikko Ollikainen, head of the UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund, “as they delineate the interconnections between climate solutions, the improvements of livelihoods, and other benefits, and therefore advance the well-being of the communities that we serve.” Similarly, Moffatt Ngugi, natural resources officer with USAID/Mozambique and Lift Advisory Council member, commented that the report contains “integrated work that we all need to know about.” Monica Jain, lead evaluation specialist for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and former Lift Advisory Council member, noted that “this is a massive evidence review highlighting the co-benefits of climate mitigation solutions and human well-being. It can guide policymakers, funders, and researchers for future investments.” Following the report’s publication, the Drawdown Lift team embarked on a fast-paced (mostly virtual) tour promoting the findings and recommendations. Throughout the year, the team had more than 60 public and media engagements and wrote 20 articles and op-eds, in addition to producing a high-level analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions in eight African countries. Interviews and quotes from the team appeared in outlets such as Al Jazeera, Scientific American, The Revelator, The Drop, Atmos Magazine, and Tree Speech podcast, among others. Additionally, Drawdown Lift summarized the report in a short video that was screened during several presentations for climate professionals. The team also worked to ensure the results of Lift’s work are actionable for climate-focused public and private decision-makers. Drawdown Lift staff held approximately 40 meetings with external stakeholders, including the Adaptation Fund, Global Environment Facility, World Bank, USAID, Save the Children, the Gates Foundation, Stewart Investors, International Gender Champions, and many more. Through meetings and presentations, we continue to raise awareness for climate solutions that can help address the world’s climate and poverty crises simultaneously. These efforts culminated at COP27, where program staff and some Lift Advisory Council members presented at side events and met with key stakeholders, including ministry officials from Pakistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Tanzania as well as representatives from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the International Water Management Institute, and Arizona State University. Drawdown Lift director Kristen P. Patterson spoke on a panel hosted by the World Resources Institute titled “Fast-Action Mitigation to Slow Warming in this Decisive Decade.” The Lift team also organized a panel discussion at the Locally Led Adaptation pavilion. That event, “Triple impact: Prioritizing climate solutions that advance adaptation, mitigation, and poverty alleviation,” featured speakers from BRAC, One Acre Fund, Save the Children, and USAID. This year, Drawdown Lift also welcomed a new member of the team, Daniel Jasper, to serve as a policy advisor, and added new members to its Advisory Council: Rajib Ghosal (regional senior technical advisor, climate change, Save the Children, Asia-Pacific) and Cheikh Mbacké Faye (director, African Population and Health Research Center, West Africa Regional Office). As we look ahead to 2023, our ultimate objective remains clear—to convince the world that we don’t have to choose between addressing climate change and alleviating poverty. As Patterson says, “We must prioritize climate solutions that generate substantial benefits for well-being to boost equity and usher in prosperity for populations least responsible for the climate crisis in Africa and South Asia.” In the year ahead, we plan to host a number of high-level webinars, private convenings, and public events and will continue to share additional research on climate solutions that also alleviate poverty. We invite you to stay tuned for these events, articles, and much more via the Project Drawdown newsletter.
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.
November 22, 2022
Seven key takeaway messages 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.
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.
October 24, 2022
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.