Transcript & Related Resources: Unit 5 - Putting it All Together

Scott Henson
Scott Henson
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Project Drawdown: Climate Solutions 101
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Zoom Recording and Resources:

Feeling overwhelmed with where to start?  

Here are some great, bite-sized ways to start your personal climate journey (and invite the people you know in your life to do the same!):

  • Your Personal Action Guide for the Environment. From Dr. Jonathan Foley (Executive Director of Project Drawdown).  Solving our biggest environmental problems will require huge changes in policy and business practice. But it turns out that our personal actions can help too, if we focus on the right things. Here are some places to start.
  • Ecosia (search engine to replace Google – web/iOS/Android/plugin)
    Plant trees while you search the web. We use the profit we make from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Get the free browser extension and plant trees with every search.
  • Earth Hero App (iOS/Android)
    Fill out a short survey to get a profile of where your carbon emissions come from. Set targets to reduce emissions, relative to global averages and IPCC recommendations. Browse ideas for actions to figure out your first steps. Track your progress with helpful reminders and tools to measure your impact. Discover social actions that have a multiplier effect. Refine your profile as you go to get a personalized view of possible actions. Go out and reduce carbon pollution, work with others to address climate change, and care for our shared planet.
  •  2040 Movie
    Award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream. Structured as a visual letter to his 4-year-old daughter, Damon blends traditional documentary with dramatised sequences and high-end visual effects to create a vision board of how these solutions could regenerate the world for future generations.

Related Resources for Unit 5:

Transcript for Unit 5: Putting it All Together

All right. 

So now we're going to put it all together, and take the climate solutions we've talked about and see what we can do to stop climate change when we put them all together. 

But remember, we started with these three principles. 

Start by reducing the sources right from emissions, and we're going to take those to zero. 

Then we work with nature to support the carbon sinks that naturally remove CO2 out of the atmosphere, on land, and in the oceans, and maybe even augment them with agriculture, new trees, and maybe even machines. 

And finally, we're going to look at ways that by improving society, we might introduce new kinds of solutions while also improving human well-being. 

When we put them all together, we see kind of the big picture of solutions. 

We see that a lot of these coming together give us a very powerful toolbox. 

For example, starting by reducing sources across those big five areas of electricity and food, industry, transportation, and buildings, we have a whole suite of solutions right there, at all those different circles.

Then we go down to supporting sinks. 

And we can see that we have a lot of solutions already in the land area and some very promising ones beginning to emerge in oceans and with engineered solutions as well. 

And finally, we can see by improving society, especially access to health care and education, we actually introduce kind of a secondary set of climate solutions that play a really big role as well. 

And it's kind of amazing. 

No one of these solutions is big enough to do the whole job. 

They're kind of equally spaced around sources and different sectors, and
between sources and sinks and society. 

But if we pull them together, we can maybe change the future. 

So let's take a look. 

We took all of the kind of solutions we estimated before where we crunch the numbers to see how big they could be, and we ran them through a computer model of the Earth's atmosphere and our climate to see what might happen. 

Well, here's what we found. 

If we look at the atmosphere and its concentration of greenhouse gases, the red curve kind of shows, you might call it “business as usual.” 

We start in 2020 with where we are now, basically, and run forward with
our best guesses about the future use of energy, land, and materials. 

But then we introduce the Drawdown solutions in the yellow curve. 

And we did an even more aggressive scenario in the green curve. 

These two scenarios say we're going to tackle climate change, either aggressively in yellow or really aggressively in green. 

And when we do this, guess what we find? 

It turns out that by deploying solutions we already have in place and just getting going with them, we can stop climate change and reach that moment of drawdown as early as the 2040s and maybe through the 2050s to 2060s.

All of those possibilities between the yellow and the green are entirely possible. 

And remember, these are solutions that already exist and already work. 

There's nothing new here, we just have to deploy them. 

So what would that do to our climate? 

Well, again, that red curve, that kind of business as usual, just keeps warming. 

And it's going to head to warming of about 2.5 degrees here. 

And it probably heads towards 3 and beyond. 

That's like a whole other planet. 

We don't want to go there. 

The yellow curve and the green curve, though, we find actually stabilize our temperatures between 1.5 degrees warmer and 2 degrees warmer. 

That's again, right now we're at one degree warmer than normal. 

We could stop it at about 1.5 to 2 degrees. And that's when we start slamming the brakes on climate change. 

And those targets basically correspond to what we call the Paris Accords. 

This was an international agreement which would say let's limit climate change to no more than 1.5 to 2 degrees. 

And we find we can actually pull it off. 

But that's looking at the big picture. 

In reality, we've got to look at the specific solutions and kind of drill down into each of them. 

In our original book back in 2017, we ran some numbers and presented kind of a ranked list of solutions that looked a little bit like this.

Where we said at the top, there are some solutions.

In this case, we have wind turbines, solar panels, food waste, changing our diets, and so on.

And we ranked them from like one through 80 and kept going and going. 

That's great, and people love rankings for some reason. 

It's kind of clickbait.

People want to compare their favorite solution to your favorite solution and all that. 

That's cool. 

But what we learned is we also have to deploy all of them. 

So to me, it doesn't quite matter what the rankings are. 

Is number 23 really that different than number 25, since we have to do them anyway? 

So basically, let's do all the solutions and look at them in context. 

So we're going to look at them like this. 

It turns out that we can look at solutions, whether they're from the sources, the sinks, or society all at once. 

And we can look at all the multiple sectors of the economy and of nature and see how they all play out. 

Then we can look at what we call solution clusters, like things that are about energy efficiency, promoting renewables, protecting ecosystems, kind of big groupings of solutions. 

And then we can drill down to the specifics of which solution exactly where and how big they could be one by one by one and so on.

And we can walk through all these different sectors of electricity, food industry, transport, and we can see the land sinks. 

We can see how health and education plays a role. 

And we put it all together. 

We have kind of the master slide.

This is the road map for how we can stop climate change all in one picture. 

So these are the solutions. 

These are the things if we put them out and put them to scale, could actually stop climate change. 

And every single one of these exist. 

In the future, we can add more of them as we learn more and develop new technologies. 

But there's nothing that should stop us from starting today. 

But inevitably, people will say, "Well, this will cost too much. 

It doesn't take, you know, we don't have enough money. 

It'll cost too much to society." 

Let me show you that is completely not true. 

It's just utter nonsense. 

It's actually a lie. 

It turns out that yes, initially, we do have to put some money on the table to
implement climate solutions. 

Of course we do. 

In this scenario, we put it in about 25 to 30 trillion dollars at first.

This graph I'm showing you is what we call a cost curve. 

Economists use it to kind of look at things we should do and how much they cost. 

On the horizontal axis going left to right, we have all the climate solutions in order, in terms of their costs from cheapest to most expensive, all stacked together. 

The vertical is what each one of them costs going up and down. 

But we see some of these things actually save you money on day one, like energy efficiency. 

Other solutions to the right cost some money up front. 

But if we run the clock forward about 20 to 30 years or so, and we incorporate the savings that these climate solutions generate, or new kinds of revenue, we find that almost all of them save enormous amounts of money, far more than they cost originally. 

In fact, if we in this scenario spend about 28 trillion dollars, which is a lot of money, but it's a lot less than we use to subsidize fossil fuels and our world's militaries and other things, we actually make back about 145 trillion dollars, which oil and the military and other things couldn't possibly do. 

So this is about a five to one return on investment. 

And there's really no downside at all. 

And this doesn't even count the cost of avoiding dangerous climate change. 

If the world got 2, 3, 4 degrees warmer than normal, it would be catastrophic and cost untold trillions of dollars and affect hundreds and hundreds of millions of
lives in incredibly bad ways. 

So this is the biggest bargain in history. 

I think of it as the largest economic and job creation opportunity we've ever, ever seen. 

So when people tell you, "It's not economical to tackle climate change," it's first of all a lie. 

What they're really saying is, "This is actually kind of inconvenient for very powerful
special interests right now, so please don't talk about it."

So what have we learned? 

We've learned that yes, we actually have today enough solutions to stop climate change. 

They are big enough. 

In fact, when we put about 80 of them together, and we're adding more all the time, we have enough solutions in our back pocket to stop climate change. 

And together these solutions will make the world better, healthier, more prosperous, more resilient, and more secure than we've ever been. 

And we can prevent huge damages to the future and leave a beautiful living planet for future generations.