7 Things You Should Know About “Project Drawdown”

The author of the book Drawdown is 2018’s keynote speaker at the Outdoor Industry Association Industry Breakfast.

By Deborah Williams January 24, 2018

As outdoorists, we see the impacts of climate change when each season becomes harder and harder to predict. As businesses in the outdoor industry, we know we have an important role to play. The author of the book Drawdown and 2017’s keynote speaker at the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Industry Breakfast, Paul Hawken, explained how we can collectively, tackle global warming with solutions that already exist. Here are a few things you should know about Project Drawdown.

1. The term “drawdown” refers to the moment in time when global greenhouse gasses will stop and reverse their current upward trajectory and will begin to decline year-over-year. If deployed over the next 30 years, the solutions presented in Project Drawdown could realize drawdown by the year 2050.

2. The full title of the book is Project Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. After discovering that no other plan existed in the world to actually reverse global warming trends, Paul and his team chose the title and reminded us all of the critical importance of bringing people and ideas together on a global scale.

3. The uniqueness of Project Drawdown is the fact that the book and the nonprofit organization of the same name come at the problem from three unique angles:

  • First, it evaluated hundreds of currently available solutions across eight sectors for their viability, then used data and modeling to project their potential impacts over the next 30 years. The result is a list of 80 solutions that already exist and are proving their value.
  • Second, it is ongoing. The coalition of researchers and writers who produced the plan will continue to update, expand and share their findings to remain current with solutions as they develop and become more viable over time.
  • Third, it empowers change at all levels of society. It reminds us that decisions and actions of by individuals, corporations and communities in every corner of the globe can positively impact the future of our planet.

4. In an interview with Vox in May 2017, Paul Hawken explained the genesis of Project Drawdown like so: “name the goal and then map, measure, and model, see if it’s achievable. And away we went, for almost three years, with 70 Drawdown research fellows from 22 countries and six continents.”

5. The solutions are divided into eight sectors, including:

  • Materials
  • Electricity
  • Food
  • Women and children
  • Land Use
  • Buildings and cities
  • Transport
  • Coming attractions

6. According to the Project Drawdown website, each solution is measured and modeled to determine its carbon impact through the year 2050, the total and net cost to society, and the total lifetime savings (or cost).

7. Topping the list of 80 solutions is Refrigerant Management, which falls in the materials sector. Also in the materials sector is Industrial Materials, ranking #56 on the list. According to the website, “At least half of waste is industrial and commercial.” Thus recycling what we’ve deemed waste can reduce emissions as new products are made from recovered materials, rather than virgin resources. Whether it’s investing in innovation technologies to make materials recyclable or adopting a circular business model to recapture “waste” as a valuable resource, Project Drawdown lights the way with deployable strategies we would all benefit to scale.