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The Next Economy
New Project Drawdown Strategy Will Engage Agriculture in the Climate Fight

Drawdown Food will advance science and share insights at the intersection of food, agriculture, land use and climate change.

When we think of the causes of climate change, fossil fuel use for energy production, transportation and industry tend to be the first things that comes to mind — but as we’ve learned, our global food system is equally at fault: A whopping 22–33 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food, agriculture and land (and ocean) use.

And while the systems we’ve created to feed humanity have created a huge problem for Earth’s climate, they also offer huge opportunities to help halt climate change.

Adding to a growing number of efforts aimed at future-proofing our food system, including Mars and Unreasonable Group’s Unreasonable Food program and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Big Food Redesign Challenge, is Project Drawdown’s Drawdown Food — a major new that will lead research to define and refine best practices for enhancing global food security while minimizing adverse climate impacts. Drawdown says it will apply that research to provide actionable information on ways stakeholders both within and outside the sector can downsize greenhouse gas emissions from food and agriculture, and make the most of the land’s capacity to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere — based on timing, location, ancillary benefits and more.

Image credit: Project Drawdown

“Using available technologies and practices, we can meet every person’s food needs while also neutralizing the food system’s impact on climate,” says Project Drawdown executive director Jonathan Foley. “We just need to apply the right combinations of solutions in the right place at the right time.”

Drawdown says the food system offers opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in two main ways: Most of the potential lies in cutting emissions; additional gains come from removing carbon from the air by restoring ecosystems and enhancing soil health. Drawdown points to a host of solutions — including protection of critical ecosystems including forests, grassland, peatland, coastal wetlands and coral reefs; reducing climate-changing methane emissions through innovations in cattle feed; greatly reducing food waste; scaling regenerative-farming practices; and shifting diets to include lesser-known and more climate-resilient grains and more plant-based, lab-grown and other alternative proteins; and radically improving production of global staple foods such as rice, beef and fish to eliminate many of the sector’s emissions and other negative environmental impacts.

Alta Futures and the ZG Foundation will provide broad support for Drawdown Food’s analyses to better understand the food sector’s contributions to climate change and how food-sector solutions can best be deployed to reduce this contribution. Funding from the Global Methane Hub will allow the Drawdown Food team to identify and deploy strategies to reduce methane emissions in food, agriculture and land use; and the Asia Philanthropy Circle is underwriting work specific to Southeast Asia.

In the weeks and months ahead, Drawdown says it will share regular reports and updates through webinars, presentations and research publications. Corporations, impact funders and philanthropists will have opportunities to tap into the growing knowledge base and use it to maximize the impact of their climate efforts.