Homing in on the Most Impactful Climate Solutions You Can Take
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
If you're wondering which actions you can take to make the most impact, then you're in luck. Researchers have identified which actions will make the most difference in reducing GHG emissions and draw carbon out of the atmosphere.
If you read my last two posts (Selecting the Level of your Climate Impact and Choosing a Climate Action Front) then you probably have a clear sense of which of the three Climate Fronts (Mitigation, Drawdown, Adaptation) and four Levels of Climate Action (Individual, Close Circle, Community, Global) you’d like to engage in.
The next step in narrowing down the list of possible actions you will take is to learn about and select from the list of most effective actions.
Most Viable Mitigation and Drawdown Solution Areas
Researchers at Project Drawdown pinpointed 80 of the most workable global climate solutions. When implemented, these actions together will significantly lessen the amount of GHG emissions we put into the environment (Mitigation) and draw enough carbon out of the air (Drawdown) to stop, and maybe even reverse, climate change. They’ve grouped them into the following seven categories:
The power sector supplies 40 percent of annual GHG emissions to the atmosphere. 20 different solutions exist in this sector, including:
Generating electricity via renewable energy technologies
Using technologies that reduce the use of fossil fuels
Putting technologies into place that enable wide-spread use of renewable energy, like energy storage
This area includes farm crops and livestock, and food preparation, consumption, and waste. Together, this activity is responsible for a major share of GHG emissions today. 17 different solutions exist in this sector, including:
Reducing emissions from farming and ranching
Improving soil health by storing carbon in the soil
Reducing food waste
Eating a diet that has more vegetables in it (plant-based diet)
Promoting gender equity can reduce emissions since it cuts fertility rates. Population size is a key driver of demand for food, transportation, electricity, buildings, goods, etc., all of which lead to higher emissions
The three solutions in this category include:
Supporting women smallhold farmers
The cities of the world, and the buildings and infrastructure in them, put out a sizeable amount of GHG emissions. Most of it for heating and cooling. Project Drawdown identified 16 solutions in this area that lead to more efficient ways to live in and use buildings and cities, including:
Building green roofs
Increasing residential and commercial LED lighting
5. Land Use
The loss of forests are responsible for about 1/8 of GHG emissions today (IPCC, 2014). Land use solutions focus on the protection and restoration of forests and wetlands and the growth of perennial timber and biomass crops. They all naturally store carbon. There are nine solutions that fall into the following three areas:
Protecting existing forests and wetlands
Restoring degraded land
Growing timber and biomass crops
Transport produces about 14% of all GHG emissions worldwide. In some countries, it can even be up to 35%. In some modes, like air transport and international shipping, emissions are increasing. So, this sector requires special attention to keep emissions from ballooning out of control. Solutions in this area mostly focus on changing the way we fuel our ways of moving people and goods around. Project Drawdown outlines 11 transport solutions, including:
Changing the way we travel by air
Increasing shipping efficiency
Using Electric Vehicles
Creating walkable cities
The developed world acts as if the earth is a limitless resource. We remove materials from the ground, turn them into goods we want to buy, and then throw them away when we are done. This leaves waste, environmental destruction, and significant GHG emissions in our wake. We waste much energy in the process of our meeting our needs to consume more. And then even more goes into handling the remaining waste. The seven solutions Project Drawdown includes in this area, together show a path towards a more circular economy. Material already used is efficiently remade into new goods, or more thoughtfully disposed so they release fewer GHG emissions as they break down. The seven solutions in this sector include:
Managing refrigerants (the most impactful solution of the 100)
Increasing household and industrial Recycling
Scaling up the use of bioplastics
Which of these solution areas draws your interest the most?
In which sector do you feel most excited about taking action?
Where do you feel most comfortable contributing?
If you are still not sure, I encourage you to explore the categories more fully. You can click on the name of the area you want to know more about and it will take you to that page on the Project Drawdown website.
If you want to know about solutions that are more relevant to responding the impacts of a rapidly warming world (Recovery & Adaptation), I will discuss those in an upcoming blog post. I will also outline a more comprehensive list of possible actions you can take to individually contribute to each sector in future posts.
I’d love to know what’s grabbing your attention or what questions are running through your mind. Let me know in the comments section. I’ll respond in one of my blog posts.
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All the best,Krista / Eco-Omi