The Drawdown Review: climate solutions for a new decade

Dietrich Van der Weken | March 23, 2020

Dietrich Van der Weken | March 23, 2020

As the world’s leading source of climate solutions, Project Drawdown identifies, reviews and analyses the most viable solutions to climate change. This G-STIC strategic partner is shifting the global conversation about climate change from “doom and gloom” to one of possibilities and opportunities. That message is shared with the world throughout open-source digital resources on, the New York Times bestseller “Drawdown” and the recently published Drawdown Review.

What is Drawdown?

Long story short, Drawdown is the future point in time when greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere stop going up and start dropping steadily. Drawdown is when we begin the process of calling a halt to further climate change. It is a crucial turning point for life on our planet, and we need to reach it as quickly, safely, and equitably as we can.

Project Drawdown is far from being a one-time effort. It is an ongoing process of evaluating how climate solutions based on existing practices and technologies can contribute to reaching Drawdown.

The Drawdown Review

Project Drawdown has recently published the Drawdown Review. I consider this review a must-read for all people dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals. With ten key insights summarising the vital climate change challenges in easy-to-understand messages, the Drawdown Review helps to “see the forest for the trees”.

Silver bullets don’t exist.

Consider the second key insight, which states that “Climate solutions are interconnected as a system, and we need all of them”. That message is very dear to our G-STIC community. We are all too well aware that no silver bullet exists to solve complex problems such as the climate crisis. Instead, we need a wide range of integrated technological solutions that address multiple challenges at the same time, and we need to deploy all of them on a massive scale.

Nature-based solutions
Coastal wetlands provide habitat, flood control, groundwater recharge, and storm protection.

Nature-based solutions, for example, offer protection from natural hazards that come with climate change while providing access to vital resources such as safe drinking water and energy. As an indispensable complement to climate solutions focused on reducing CO2 emissions, nature-based solutions help mitigate climate change risks and establish climate-resilient societies.

Deep renovation of existing buildings provides another example. It illustrates how affordable retrofits help reduce buildings’ emissions thanks to better insulation, more efficient lighting, and advanced heating and cooling systems. Combining these solutions with onsite renewable energy sources even makes it possible to realise buildings with zero net energy consumption.

Green roofs
Green roofs are just one type of climate solution that can help transition buildings from being a major issue to potentially net-positive.

A matter far beyond technology

“Accelerators are critical to move solutions forward at the scale, speed, and scope required” is another key insight from the Drawdown Review that is close to G-STIC’s heart.

This is a matter far beyond technology, though. Changes in our social, financial, regulatory and institutional systems are crucial to create the conditions to move solutions forward with higher speed and broader scope. Financial inclusion is vital if we want climate solutions to work for the benefits of all citizens, not just for the happy few. All of this requires tremendous ambition and active engagement of all stakeholders.

So how to reach Drawdown?

As the Drawdown Review states, it is crucial to work on all three areas of action that address the full climate equation:

  • reduce sources, to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to zero,
  • support greenhouse gas sinks, to increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere,
  • improve society, to foster equity for all.

The Drawdown Solutions Framework therefore organises climate solutions by sector (such as electricity, food, agriculture & land use, industry, transport, and buildings, for example) within these three areas of action.

What makes the Drawdown Review particularly interesting is that it quantifies the minimum and maximum impact of each solution using two different implementation scenarios. These scenarios help concretise what specific efforts we need to reach Drawdown.

Bamboo can help sequester carbon
By sequestering carbon, bamboo can help put inhospitable degraded lands to use.

Whether that’s an ambitious scenario to reach the point of Drawdown in the mid-2060s or an even bolder one to achieve it in the mid-2040s, the message is clear. In essence, we can prevent potentially destructive warming with climate solutions in hand today if we act boldly and with tremendous ambition.

I recommend you to download your free copy of the Drawdown Review from the Project Drawdown website.

Drawdown Review

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Dietrich Van der Weken

Since January 2017, Dietrich Van der Weken is the General Manager of the G-STIC conferences series initiated by VITO, the prime research and technology organization in Belgium. Dietrich joined VITO in July 2009, focusing on cleantech innovation. Until December 2016, Dietrich was the Program Manager of MIP, the Environmental and Energy Technology Innovation Platform, a subsidy program that focuses on accelerating the transition to the sustainable management of energy, materials, and water. Dietrich holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics, obtained at Ghent University, Belgium.

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