The Carbon Farming Solution

A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security

Drawdown: the "Sequel" to Carbon Farming Solution

Drawdown: the "Sequel" to Carbon Farming Solution

October 26, 2019 - 2:00pm

Since 2015 (a year or so before The Carbon Farming Solution was published), I've been working for Project Drawdown as a Senior Fellow. Alongside Senior Fellow Mamta Mehra, my role there has been to model the economic and climate impacts of increased adoption of agricultural and land-based climate change mitigation solutions. Drawdown's book, conceived and edited by Paul Hawken and featuring an enormous team of researchers from all over the world, including me, was a New York Times bestseller for 2017.

This has really represented for me the next evolution of the ideas in Carbon Farming.That book looked at the toolkit of farming practices that sequester carbon, and was limited to comparing their per-hectare impact. That was plenty!

But Drawdown has been a tremendous education. In addition to carbon sequestration, we also look at reducing emissions from agriculture, and increasing yields (intensification), which can reduce deforestaton pressure to clear land for agriculture. This data was run through meta-analysis, and we added economic data on the costs of establishment, net profit, and years to profit after establishment. All of this data (an education in itself), was then used as the basis for projecting adoption of the solutions. So a solution with low per-hectare impacts, like conservation agriculture, can still have a big impact due to widespread and rapid adoption. This is extremely complementary to my book. Check out the food sector summary for details. Drawdown also looks at solutions that reduce demand for food (diet change and food waste), and improvements to transportation and refrigeration. 

Through Drawdown I've been able to reach a much wider audience than Carbon Farming ever will. Solutions like silvopasture have come much more in focus, in part due to our work there. Drawdown is helping to point out that it's not too late for climate change mitigation - and the many co-benefits that these solutions can provide.

My term with Drawdown will end in April 2020. What's next for me? Working to greatly increase the visibility and adoption of agroforestry and perennial crops. Stay tuned! I'm launching a new NGO, the Perennial Agriculture Institute, to further these aims. And I've just been named a Senior Fellow with the Evergreening Global Alliance, whose Green Up to Cool Down campaign is the world's largest effort to scale up agroforestry. In fact the Alliance has just received $85 million for Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration on 2 million hectares in 7 Sahelian countries.

I also have a number of articles and chapters in press and under development. You may also have missed a few: here are my Washington Post op-ed on silvopasture, my chapter on perennial staple crops and agroforestry, and a piece on perennial industrial crops as feedstocks for green chemistry that I wrote with the fantastic Ann Blake.