Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

  • Written by  NIGEL WINSER
  • Published in Books
DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming
15 May
edited by Paul Hawken • Penguin • £16.99 (paperback)

‘Every-time we make a purchase, we vote for the world we want.’ That message remains on a postcard above my desk. No one will argue against a world without poverty, with habitats intact, clean rivers and oceans, and stability in our economies and climate. But apart from world peace, the least understood of these issues is by far is global warming – the true elephant in the room.

Enter Paul Hawken, an energetic American environmentalist, who wants to know what we all need to do to arrest and reverse global warming. With no inventory to guide the world, he has embarked on a project to map, measure and model the most substantive solutions to global warming that already exist. The goal is to reach that point in time when concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to decline year-on-year, preferably before 2050.

In 2013, a frustrated Hawken approached his network of greenhouse gas experts. This led to a coalition of 200 Drawdown advisors, comprising geologists, engineers, agriculturalists, climatologists, biologists, economists, financiers, architects, companies and NGOs. Research into energy, food, land use, transport, buildings and cities, women’s education and materials began, with the aim to assess the most suitable existing solutions to climate change.

So what are they? At the end of this 240-page report is a summary of 80, ranked by the total CO2-EQ (Equivalent) reduction in gigatons. Here I would have lost a bet. At the bottom with 0.20 gigatons is micro-wind energy, while refrigeration materials top the list at 89.74 gigatons. The next nine are: wind turbines (offshore), reducing food waste, plant-rich diets, tropical forests, educating girls, family planning, solar farms, silvopasture and then rooftop solar as number ten. Two of my favourite solutions, planting forests and harnessing tidal energy, are 15 and 29 respectively. So that’s another bet lost.

Drawdown is addictive. For each solution there is a short review supported by great photos and informatics. Take refrigeration. We are reminded that refrigerants continue to cause planetary trouble leading to a new treaty. Ultimately, 197 nations have adopted the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2028. HFCs are largely innocuous to the ozone layer but are one of the most potent greenhouse gases known to humankind. Hence they take pole position. Which should give you pause to think when next buying a new fridge or air conditioner.

As Prince Charles writes in the foreword: ‘The solutions put forward in Drawdown reaffirm compelling truths that for some inexplicable reason have not yet been taken forward effectively.’ I agree and hope political and business leaders in Westminster and the City have the opportunity to study the findings of this four-year survey and use their influence to help reverse global warming. The findings of Hawken’s work make compelling reading. With the Drawdown plan as a reference, we are better informed to vote for a sustainable tomorrow through the purchases and actions we make today.

Click here to purchase Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken from Amazon

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to Geographical!

Adventure Canada


Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Mexico City: boom town
    Twenty years ago, Mexico City was considered the ultimate urban disaster. But, recent political and economic reforms have transformed it into a hub of...
    Hung out to dry
    Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for mill...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...


NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


New exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery by photojournalist Lizzie Sadin,…


by Tim Marshall • Elliott & Thompson • £16.99 (hardback)


by Inara Verzemnieks • Pushkin Press • £16.99 (hardback)


by Andy Kirkpatrick • Vertebrate Publishing • £24 (hardback)


edited by Paul Hawken • Penguin • £16.99 (paperback)


by William Frame and Laura Walker •British Library Publishing • £40…


by Tom Young • Oneworld • £12.99 (hardback)


An up-market Chinese-art gallery in Mayfair is trying something new,…


A colourful vision of saddle-billed storks collects the top prize…


To reflect the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage…


From 18-22 July, photography tour company Light and Land will…


by Joe Shute • Bloomsbury • £16.99 (hardback)


by Beau Riffenburgh • Andre Deutsch • £25 (hardback)


by Diana Preston • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)


by Michael Benanav • Pegasus Books • £21.99 (hardback)


by Tony Juniper • Profile Books • £16.99/£12.99 (hardback/ebook)


by Roland Jackson • Oxford University Press • £25 (hardback)


by Kristy Leissle • Polity Press • £14.99 (paperback)


by Christopher Somerville  •  Black Swan Publishing  •  £9.99 (paperback)


by Doug Scott  •  Vertebrate Publishing  •  £20 (hardback)