Ted Talk: 100 solutions to climate change


It’s through a combination of these three mechanisms that drawdown becomes possible. So how do we get there? Well, here’s the short answer. This is a list of the top 20 solutions to reversing global warming.Now, I’ll go into some detail, but take a few seconds to look over the list. It’s eclectic, I know, from onshore wind turbines to educating girls, from plant-rich diets to rooftop solar technology. So let’s break it down a little bit. To the right of the slide, you’ll see figures in gigatons, or billions of tons. That represents the total equivalent carbon dioxide reduced from the atmosphere when the solution is implemented globally over a 30-year period. Now, when we think about climate solutions, we often think about electricity generation.We think of renewable energy as the most important set of solutions, and they are incredibly important.But the first thing to notice about this list is that only five of the top 20 solutions relate to electricity. What surprised us, honestly, was that eight of the top 20 relate to the food system. The climate impact of food may come as a surprise to many people, but what these results show is that the decisions we make every day about the food we produce, purchase and consume are perhaps the most important contributions every individual can make to reversing global warming. And how we manage land is also very important. Protecting forests and wetlands safeguards, expands and creates new carbon sinks that directly draw down carbon. This is how drawdown can happen. And when we take food and land management together, 12 of the top 20 solutions relate to how and why we use land. This fundamentally shifts traditional thinking on climate solutions. But let’s go to the top of the list, because I think what’s there may also surprise you. The single most impactful solution, according to this analysis, would be refrigeration management, or properly managing and disposing of hydrofluorocarbons, also known as HFCs, which are used by refrigerators and air conditioners to cool the air. We did a great job with the Montreal Protocol to limit the production of chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, because of their effect on the ozone layer. But they were replaced by HFCs, which are hundreds to thousands of times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. And that 90 gigatons reduced is a conservative figure. If we were to account for the impact of the Kigali agreement of 2016, which calls for the phaseout of hydrofluorocarbons and replace them with natural refrigerants, which exist today, this number could increase to 120, to nearly 200 gigatons of avoided greenhouse gases. Maybe you’re surprised, as we were.


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