Transcript & Related Resources: Unit 6 - Making it Happen

Scott Henson
Scott Henson
Last updated 
Transcript & Related Resources: Unit 6 - Making it Happen

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 6:

Transcript for Unit 6: Making it Happen

Okay, so in this final unit, we're going to talk about how we can make this all happen. 

We've got solutions, but now we've got to put them out into the world. 

We've learned a lot along the way, though. 

First of all, it is not too late to stop climate change, not at all. 

We have enough solutions right at our fingertips to solve the problem. 

We simply have to put them out into the world. 

And remember, these solutions are good for us. 

They're going to make the world better. 

An analogy I kind of like to use is: You go to the doctor, you learn, you're kind of sick. 

And you might learn about a treatment, but there are side effects. 

It's going to be kind of nasty and things you don't really want to do. 

This is kind of different. 

We go to the doctor and learn, hey, we got a real problem, but the solutions are going to actually make you healthier, happier, richer, and better off in the long run. 

Why not? 

Why the hell aren't we doing this? 

Well, the first thing we have to remember when we move forward to actually implementing these solutions is time is the most important variable. 

We've been wasting decades talking about climate change but not doing enough to stop it. 

If we take the solutions we have now, let's not wait for any more technology or anything else, we start today, we can still beat climate change. 

But if we wait, if we wait because of politics, we wait because of obstructionism, we wait because we're waiting for the perfect new technology, we are going to lose. 

So we have to start now. 

We need time, not tech and talk. 

That's what we need. 

And at Drawdown we have a saying, “Now is better than new." 

We've got to get going with what we have today. 

So how do we deploy these solutions? 

How do we take them out into the world?

The solutions are, again, kind of physical things or a technology, a practice that actually affect the atmosphere. 

They are things we need to have more of quickly. 

How do we make sure they get there? 

Well, we have things we call “accelerators,” things that move solutions into action. 

And they include a lot of different things. 

For example, we have to change the rules, effectively changing policy, like the laws we have, or regulations, or how we collect taxes and what do we tax, what do we incentivize?

All of that kind of policy-making. 

Whether it's in Washington, or at a federal capitol, or at a state level, or at a city level, all of those policies are really, really important, and it can help us take solutions to scale more quickly. 

But we've also got to work with money, and capital, and investors, and all this kind of stuff. 

We have to pull capital out of the things destroying the planet – oil and gas and all that kind of thing – and out of bad forms of agriculture and destructive industries and move capital into good things that are actually promoting climate solutions and maybe a regenerative economy, one that makes the world better. 

We've also got to reform the way businesses think about these things. 

We need to look beyond just right in front of our nose at quarterly profits. 

We've got to look at the long view which knows that businesses have to take on climate change, too. 

It's a really terrible business environment if the planet’s going haywire. 

So if businesses take a longer perspective, they can actually incorporate climate solutions and better thinking into their daily practices. 

And businesses could be very helpful. 

But right now, largely, they're not. 

We also do need more technology, partly to take what we already know how to do and make it cheaper and faster and move at scale quickly, as well as some fundamentally new things. 

But we can't wait for technology. 

We'll just fold it in as we go.

So that'll be really important.

And we do need behavior change.

We absolutely do. 

You and I, at our household levels, at our communities, our schools, our places of worship, all of these places, we can make little changes that do add up. 

They're not enough to solve the problem. 

But without behavior change, things like how we eat, food waste, our energy conservation strategies do require that as individuals and communities, we play sort of a role as well. 

So we need it all. 

Just like climate solutions, we need a lot of accelerators as well, from the policy-making to individual behavior, to moving money, inventing new things, and changing the rules of business. 

We need everything. 

But how's this going to play out over time? 

Well, we're going to be addressing climate change for a while now. 

It took us a, you know, good hundred years to get into this mess. 

It's going to take a couple decades to get out of it.

That's just inevitable.

So I think about climate solutions unfolding over, let's say, the next three decades. 

We've got the 2020s to work on it, the 2030s, and the 2040s. 

How do we play it out over time? 

It's kind of like a big chess game. 

We now know all the pieces on the board. 

What are our opening moves, and what are the closing moves we need to win the

Well, I think there will be kind of three waves of action that all begin today, but they unfold a little differently over time. 

The first wave of action might be, let's deploy the really cost-effective, low-hanging fruit, things we know how to do right now that save us money and are big wins today, and do them fast. 

Energy efficiency. 

It's crazy that we still have buildings that leak out half of the energy we pour into them. 

The fact that we throw away about a third of the food in the world.

That we still deforest beautiful tropical forests to grow a few more cows and

These are all things we can totally fix today if we put our minds to it. 

There's no reason we should be doing these things.

Similarly, we need to demand the energy industry really tackle methane leaks.

We're going to need to move off of natural gas completely.

That'll take more time.

But immediately, we can stop the leaks in natural gas pipelines, in natural gas wells, in flaring of oil rigs.

Those are things we could stop today if we simply regulated that better.

And we can also switch to renewables a lot faster than a lot of people thought.

Even five years ago, I might not have said this, but today, renewables have gotten so cheap, they're now by far the cheapest source of electricity on the planet today. 

And if we can electrify our cars and our buildings more, they become a solution not only to electricity, but to the building and transportation emissions as well. 

Solar panels, in particular have fallen in price so quickly, it's almost like computers. 

They're getting cheaper and faster and better, like everything. 

So iPhones and solar panels have that in common.

The cost of solar cells are so cheap now that solar and wind are now the cheapest ways to make electricity on the planet.

This here shows a picture of how much money it costs to build one megawatt-hour worth of electricity production.

Solar and wind are now cheaper than basically gas could ever be, certainly cheaper than coal, and way cheaper than nuclear power. 

And they're falling in price every day. 

That's incredible.

So there are a lot of things we could do right now, very quickly, that could have a big impact. 

Then the second wave, which we also start today. 

We're not waiting, but this one will take a little bit longer because it's about changing big infrastructure. 

We're going to have to reinvent a lot of our big systems. 

Whether it's agriculture...

We have hundreds of millions of farms across the planet, we're going to have to change them all one by one by one. 

And we're going to have to do new kinds of farming that have fewer emissions or farms that maybe even absorb some carbon dioxide as well.

We've also got to retrofit almost all of the world's buildings. 

Sure, we can build new like net-zero buildings and green buildings and all that.

That's great.

But most of the buildings we'll see in the first half of the 21st century have already been built. 

And we've got hundreds of millions of those where we've got to tear out a furnace and a boiler and a hot water heater.

Put in a heat pump and insulation and building automation systems and solar panels.

That's going to create hundreds of millions of jobs and new opportunities, and these are jobs that can't be taken away by AI or robotics, and they can't be shipped overseas.

This is a great opportunity for economic development, too.

We've got to do the same thing with transportation.

Every car, every airplane, every truck, every everything has to be retired and fast and replaced with more efficient, and hopefully electrified, vehicles, that can emit no pollution but still give us great mobility and even better transportation than we see today. 

And of course, over the same time period, we can deploy new technologies.

But don't wait for them.

But we will have to invent a few things along the way that can make things cheaper, and faster, and better, but also whole new ways of doing things.

For example, in industry, we still are going to have to tackle the problems around cement. 

There's some interesting prototypes to this, but we've got a long way to go. 

We're going to have to find new replacements for refrigerants, away from these fluorinated gases like hydrofluorocarbons to ones that aren't super-pollutants in climate change. 

And we also have to do things like making steel in ways that don't emit high amounts of carbon dioxide.

These are all possible, but we've got a little ways to go for that. 

Then we have things that I think are going to be pretty exciting, like how do we make jet fuel out of the air instead of out of oil? 

How do we have a drop-in replacement for aviation so we don't contribute to climate change when we fly? 

Or making air turn into plastics so we're not using oil to make things we might need. 

We're actually using last year's pollution.

These are all ideas that need a little more work and can be deployed over the next few decades.

But what you see here is climate changes is yes, a huge problem.

But I actually look at it a little differently and see it as a great opportunity to kind of reboot the planet. 

We have to reimagine everything.

The way we make our energy systems work, electricity, transportation, buildings, the way we grow food and use what we grow and ship it around the world, and what we eat and how we eat it, all of that.

Everything has to be reinvented.

That's great.

That's an opportunity to rethink everything.

As we fix our problems around climate change, we could also have an eye towards equity and justice and maybe address some of our long-standing historical dilemmas there. 

We also could look for opportunities to grow new jobs as globalization has wiped out other jobs.

We can also create healthier cities where people walk more, get more exercise, lead better lives breathing cleaner air and addressing some of our biggest public health concerns. 

So to me, addressing climate change isn't a bad thing.

It's one of the biggest opportunities to build an incredible world we've ever seen.

So what else do we need?

I'm convinced we actually have the solutions and technologies at our fingertips to get going and solve this problem.

We also know how to push them out into the world with policy, behavior, capital, and so on. 

But we're missing something.

One of the things I think we're missing right now is a much better and bolder vision of leadership. 

We don't have that today, sadly, in most places.

Today, a lot of our leaders are saying the future is going to be terrible. 

It's going to be dark, dismal, dystopian futures, and those people are to blame for it. 

We're causing people to be fearful and divisive and hate each other.

We're now more divided in the United States, for example, than any time since the Civil War. 

And I don't even know why. 

We have to move away from that model of leadership if we want to be the best version of ourselves and solve one of our greatest civilization's problems. 

So what we need is a different kind of leadership that paints a picture of the future that we can join together in and build a better world. 

Martin Luther King, for example, didn't go around America saying, "I have a nightmare." 

He talked about a dream. 

A dream that even those who didn't agree with it at first knew in their bones was right, and true, and moral, and just. 

He had a dream, where measuring people on their character, not the color of their skin. 

And that dream was beautiful. 

And he invited all of us to join in and make that a reality. 

Now, he died for that dream, and we are still far from achieving it completely.

But we're on that path slowly but surely. 

What about climate change? 

What if we said to the world, solving climate change is one of the best ways to make a better world, and we invite all of you, conservatives, liberals, big-city folks, small-town people, to come together and build that better world. 

I think it would energize millions of people and bring together us around one of the greatest achievements we could ever have.

So my ask of you is for you to step up and be a leader in your life, in your community. 

There are always people who look up to you, who ask you for help, and you have influence across your businesses where you work, your communities, your communities of faith, your schools, your neighborhoods. 

All of us can share and learn what we know and lead all of us into making a better world, one bit at a time. 

I hope at Project Drawdown we can be a resource to you along your leadership journey. 

Come to 

We’re going to have lots of resources about climate solutions, and hopefully
network people together so we can work together to build this bigger planet
and solve these bigger problems. 

But we ask you to exercise your leadership. 

Don't abdicate your future. 

Don't abdicate your responsibility, and don't abdicate your leadership in making a better world. 

And remember, remember when I started this whole thing, in saying the future is not written yet. 

Robert Anton Wilson once said, "The future is up for grabs. 

And it belongs to the people who accept the risk and the responsibility of consciously creating the future we want." 

So let's go out and build a future by design. 

A better future. 

Not one by default.

And that future is up to you and up to me and all of us. 

And I think we can make it a great one.