Drawdown is the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline.

Project Drawdown

Drawdown is a critical turning point for life on Earth. It is when we begin the process of stopping further climate change and global warming.

The good news is that we have what we need to bend the curve before 2050, from ancient human practices to recent technological innovations. And in the process, we can realize enormous social and economic co-benefits.

This becomes the foundations for a philosophical framework — a positive approach to the climate crisis based on action, solutions and opportunity.

Project Drawdown

The idea of Drawdown started with environmentalist and author Paul Hawken’s observation that there was no directory or comprehensive resource of solutions to global warming. Since its inception in 2014, Project Drawdown has become the world’s leading resource for climate solutions. Hundreds of scientists and experts have worked on a database of the most substantial methods of reducing emissions, based rigourous scientific calculations and the best available data. The first results were published in a bestselling book in 2017 and an update was released in 2020.

The genesis for Project Drawdown was curiosity, not fear. In 2001 I began asking experts in climate and environmental fields a question: Do we know what we need to do in order to arrest and reverse global warming?

Paul Hawken

The Drawdown Framework

The core of the Drawdown methodology is encapsulated in the Drawdown Framework, published in the Drawdown Review 2020. The following information is borrowed from drawdown.org.

To understand and advance climate solutions, it’s important to understand the sources of emissions and nature’s means of rebalancing the climate system.

Burning fossil fuels for electricity, mobility, and heat. Manufacturing cement and steel. Plowing soils. Clearing forests and degrading other ecosystems. All these activities emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air. Cattle, rice fields, landfills, and fossil fuel operations release methane—a gas that warms the planet even more. Nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases seep out of agricultural lands, industrial sites, refrigeration systems, and urban areas, adding still more heat-trapping pollutants to Earth’s atmosphere.

Most of these greenhouse gases stay airborne, but not all. Natural biological and chemical processes—especially photosynthesis—bring some of that excess back to plants, soil, or sea. These “sinks” are nature’s reservoirs for absorbing and storing carbon. While most heat-trapping emissions stay in the atmosphere, significant portions are quickly removed by plants on land or taken up by oceans.

The Solutions

To reach Drawdown, we must work on all aspects of the climate equation—stopping sources and supporting sinks, as well as helping society achieve broader transformations. That is, three connected areas call for action, which we must pursue globally, simultaneously, and with determination.

1. Reduce Sources — bringing emissions to zero

2. Support Sinks — uplifting nature’s carbon cycle

3. Improve Society — fostering equality for all

Nested within each area of action, there are sectors and subgroups of diverse solutions—practices and technologies that can help the world stabilize and then begin to lower greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. Together, they comprise the Drawdown Framework for climate solutions.

The Drawdown Review (2020)

The most up-to-date research on Drawdown, following up on the 2017 book. The Review contains new and updated research, and lays out the full menu of the Drawdown methodology.

Drawdown, the most comprehensive plan every proposed to reverse global warming (2017)

Drawdown book

The book that launched Project Drawdown, containing research on the top 100 solutions to global warming. Styled as a highly accessible coffee table book, it became a New York Times bestseller and inspired a global movement.

Drawdown 101 poster

Drawdown 101
Drawdown 101 poster by Bjornar Egede-Nissen.