From the moment I first heard about the Project Drawdown initiative in 2017, I was excited about it. I was confident that it would make a major contribution to the climate change literature.

Drawdown will be a historic moment, the moment when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. For all of the attention that climate change has received of late, global emissions have continued to rise.

drawdown 2020 image

The project’s research findings have recently been updated, to keep them as fresh as possible. What is more 2 scenarios have been forecast for how things might play out.

You can find a link to the updated research here.

In Drawdown scenario 1, this should be seen as ambitious compared to today’s commitments, but it does not reach Drawdown within the period 2020-2050, rather this takes place in the mid 2060s. This should be seen as a scenario that is compatible with limiting temperature rises to 2oc.

In Drawdown scenario 2, this is much bolder, with faster and more pervasive adoption of the climate solutions outlined in the research project. With this effort, Drawdown is reached in the mid 2040s. This should be seen as a scenario that is compatible with limiting temperature rises to 1.5oc.


The top 10 solutions in Drawdown scenario 1 are as follows:

  1. Reduced Food Waste
  2. Health & Education
  3. Plant-Rich Diets
  4. Refrigerant Management
  5. Tropical Forest Restoration
  6. Onshore Wind Turbines
  7. Alternative Refrigerants
  8. Utility-Scale Photovoltaics
  9. Improved Clean Cookstoves
  10. Distributed Solar Photovoltaics

The top 10 solutions in Drawdown scenario 2 are as follows:

  1. Offshore Wind Turbines
  2. Utility-Scale Photovoltaics
  3. Reduced Food Waste
  4. Plant-Rich Diets
  5. Health & Education
  6. Tropical Forest Restoration
  7. Improved Clean Cookstoves
  8. Distributed Solar Photovoltaics
  9. Refrigerant Management
  10. Alternative Refrigerants

Another reason to be optimistic, is that with other potential solutions, such as those that are focused on reducing industrial emissions or capping fugitive methane, the world might reach Drawdown even sooner.

What you need to know

This article looked into the recently updated Drawdown 2020 review.

The new review includes 2 scenarios, which highlight the top 76 solutions needed to limit temperature rises to below 2oc and ideally 1.5oc.

In this article we looked into the top 10 solutions from each scenario. The lists are quite similar, but solar PV makes a big jump in the more ambitious scenario 2. This shows how important it is to focus on doing positive things, instead of merely reducing negative aspects.

I think a really important takeaway should be that the solutions exist now to create a low carbon future where greenhouse gas emissions are falling and not rising. We don’t have to wait for a silver bullet or technological breakthrough. All that is needed is the courage to act.

Overall, this is a highly accessible research project that should be read by everyone.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make Drawdown a reality?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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