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Drawdown’s Latest ‘Tools of Possibility’ Show Path to 1.5°C, with 1,570 Billion Tons of Emission Cuts by 2050

Humanity can prevent or draw down 1,570 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2050 to approach a 1.5°C threshold for average global warming, or 992.77 billion tons to settle around 2.0°C, by adopting a menu of 82 practical solutions ranging from onshore wind to utility-scale solar, from reduced food waste and plant-rich diets to tropical forest restoration and clean cookstoves, according to the 2020 update of the popular Drawdown list.

“Drawdown is a critical turning point for life on Earth, and we must strive to reach it quickly, safely, and equitably,” the authors state. They herald a “future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline,” adding that The Drawdown Review represents “an overview of climate solutions in hand—now, today—to reach Drawdown and begin to come back into balance with the planet’s living systems.”

The site adds: “These solutions are tools of possibility in the face of a seemingly impossible challenge. They must not remain the domain of specialists or select groups.”

The Drawdown Review website includes a list of the 82 solutions that make up the two scenarios, individual profiles for each option, and a free download in book form. It updates the group’s initial, landmark publication in 2017, which it says has “influenced university curricula, city climate plans, commitments by businesses, community action, philanthropic strategy, and more.”

The update revolves around three key strategies: bringing emissions to zero, supporting greenhouse gas sinks by “uplifting” nature’s carbon cycle, and improving society by “fostering equality for all”. The solutions themselves fall into nine sectors: electricity (440.2 gigatons in the 1.5°C scenario); food, agriculture, and land use (273.9 Gt); industry (143.8 Gt); transportation (97.4 Gt); buildings (141.2 Gt); land sinks (387.8 Gt); coastal and ocean sinks (1.48 Gt); engineered sinks (4.39 Gt); and health and education (85.42 Gt).

Among the highlights from the 1.5°C scenario in Drawdown’s table of solutions:

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2 Comments To "Drawdown’s Latest ‘Tools of Possibility’ Show Path to 1.5°C, with 1,570 Billion Tons of Emission Cuts by 2050"

#1 Comment By Bill Henderson On March 4, 2020 @ 4:08 PM

In a very relevant The Conversation article entitled 2050 is too late – we must drastically cut emissions much sooner, Tim Jackson explains that to stay under a 1.5C rise emissions must be reduced to near zero before 2030:

“It is dangerously misleading for advanced nations to set target dates as far out as 2050. Doing so ignores the importance of staying within a fair carbon budget and gives a false impression that action can be delayed. In reality, the only way to ensure that any developed country remains within its fair budget is to aim for an early net zero target. For the UK, that means bringing forward the government’s target by at least two decades.

“This might all seem daunting, but every year that progress is delayed, the challenge only gets bigger. Remaining within a fair carbon budget for the rest of this century requires deep and early decarbonisation. Anything else will risk a climate catastrophe.”

Carbon Brief had a good look at the differing carbon budget estimates for a 66% chance of staying under a 1.5C rise
https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-much-carbon-budget-is-left-to-limit-global-warming-to-1-5c It’s a little dated now and most of the projections use dated IPCC data polluted by BECCS but even the most optimistic budget estimates cited allow less than two decades for mitigation.

Drawdown might promise 1570 billion ton reduction of emissions by 2050 but that is a red herring – an incremental reduction over the next three decades does not reduce emissions as rapidly as needed before 2030 and if we don’t we won’t stay under 1.5C.

Drawdown completely ignores supply-side policies. Their mantra is that ‘We can avoid catastrophic warming with climate solutions in hand today’ by which they mean we can stay within neolib ideology and not threaten the economy or require big government or regulate fossil fuel production and still stay under 1.5C. This is flat out denial. The people that put together Drawdown are well intentioned but are best charactorized by the now popular term enablers – by advocating incremental additions that stay within neolib orthodoxy they are keeping us within plans to fail, within promises to mitigate that just allow the fossil fuel industries to continue increasing production.

In a recent column (linked to in The Mix U.S. CONSERVATIVES’ NEW CLIMATE PLANS MAINLY PROTECT FOSSILS) David Roberts describes the climate mitigation proposals by US Republicans now that climate change is no longer deniable. Surprise, those in the GOP who would advocate for climate change solutions restrict themselves to policies that wouldn’t threaten the economy or require big government or (horrors) regulate fossil fuel production. They too want to advocate ways of reducing emissions with what they believe are climate solutions available today. Roberts is scathing about both the new GOP advocates motives and the utility of their advocated policies:

“Climate policy, he’s trying to say, need not involve shutting down, replacing, or even particularly inconveniencing fossil fuels. That is the core GOP climate message, the reason the party is getting off the sidelines and into the game. It’s there to protect fossil fuels from climate policy.


“(T)he cold, hard truth at the heart of the climate dilemma: There is no avoiding the imperative to reduce fossil fuel combustion and the social and economic disruptions that come with it.

“Current Republican efforts to feign climate policy conspicuously fail to grapple with that truth. They do not take on fossil fuels; on the contrary, they are explicitly designed to support and protect fossil fuels. It amounts to presenting side dishes as the main course and leaving out the entree entirely.”

Drawdown too does not grapple with this truth. After three decades of mitigation failure we need urgent, deep systemic change, not incremental change within continuing BAU over three decades. Drawdown has many good – great – ideas but those advocating such a mitigation path today are enablers for a plan to fail because they cannot confront the denial inherent in their biz orientated, BAU requiring, neolib worldview. It’s late in the day. We need both arms of the scissors. We need deep systemic change not currently allowed. We don’t need enablers buttressing society-wide denial.