Marine stewardship, better methane management, and increased recycling figure prominently in Project Drawdown’s latest update on its already vast array of available, scalable, and financially viable climate solutions.
Adding 11 new solutions to its already considerable roster, Project Drawdown “confirms with even more clarity and conviction that humanity has the solutions needed to reach drawdown [the point where atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases enter a steady decline] quickly, safely, efficiently, and equitably,” says a recent Drawdown release.
Marine stewardship is at the core of five of the solutions, with an emphasis on restoring and protecting important marine carbon sinks like natural seaweed)forests and seafloor sediments, as well as improving wild-capture fisheries.
Better aquaculture—“one of the fastest-growing animal food sectors,” notes Drawdown—will also generate significant climate dividends, given that many of today’s aquaculture systems are highly energy intensive.
A particular kind of aquaculture, seaweed farming, earns kudos from Drawdown. Already one of the most sustainable forms of aquaculture out there, “expanding seaweed farming enhances carbon sequestration and boosts production of biomass that can be used for biofuel, bioplastic, livestock feed, and human consumption.”
Improved methane management also makes Drawdown’s updated to-do list twice, with the non-profit urging improved management of manure and vigilance to prevent methane leakage from fossil infrastructure.
The imperative to cut down on energy use as well as water consumption means that Drawdown’s new list includes a recommendation to improve energy-intensive metals and plastics recycling, while also urging an overall reduction in the use of plastics.
“Plastic production has grown tremendously over the past century, mainly for short-term use,” Drawdown explains. “Reducing the amount of plastic used in nondurable goods can significantly reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste.”
The update points out that an initial investment of US$15.6 trillion—with a view to keeping warming below 2°C—”would avoid or sequester more than 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases between 2020 and 2050 and save nearly US$98 trillion in total operating costs.” Increasing the investment by $8 trillion to keep warming below 1.5°C would mean 1,600 fewer gigatons of GHGs in the atmosphere and savings of more than US$140 trillion in lifetime costs.
Food, agriculture, and land use solutions will have the greatest impact on efforts to keep warming below 2°C, Drawdown concludes. Should 1.5°C be the focus, however, “the electricity sector jumps to the top for atmospheric greenhouse gas reductions.”