Dec. 21, 2021

PRINCIPLES | Drawdown By Sector - Climate Solutions Down Under

PRINCIPLES | Drawdown By Sector - Climate Solutions Down Under

In this episode of Regenomics Down Under, we take a quick (ish) tour through the Project Drawdown 2020 review, summarising their action areas and connecting them to actions happening in Australia and around the world.

We explore quantified, evidence-based solutions for reversing global warming through:

  • Improving society

  • Supporting carbon sinks

  • Reducing emissions

Reducing emissions is much more interesting than solar panels and electric vehicles. Currently our global emissions come from:

  • ~25% Electricity Production

  • ~24% Food, Agriculture & Land Use

  • ~21% Industry

  • ~14% Transportation

  • ~6% Buildings

  • ~10% Other Energy-Related Emissions – leaking gas pipe lines and the like

So reducing emissions covers all those sectors – Food, Agriculture, Land Use, Industry, and Buildings – they all have a role to play alongside electricity generation and transport.

There is a whole smorgasbord of commercial climate solutions already scaling – solutions that regenerate ecosystems and communities as well as our atmosphere. A whole heap are happening down under, too. 

Here’s an intro to help you find your piece of the action.



Regenomics Down Under episode “Climate Solutions and Drawdown Down Under”

Drawdown 2020 Review:

Drawdown Climate Solutions 101 – free 6-part video series:

Systems Thinking: Understanding and working with human systems is fundamental to climate solutions. Meet some key systems thinkers in this video collection:

Drawdown report on Education and Health:

Oyster Reef Restoration:

Reef Credits:

Trust for Nature:

Seaweed Carbon Capture:

Food waste statistics: 14 percent of the world’s food is lost before it even reaches the market.

Banana ‘waste’ becomes food:

RenewEconomy is full of ongoing renewables stories: has been doing amazing things. If you have more listening time, one telling of their story is here

Biomimicry for smarter technology:

Circular Economy in Victoria:

Green steel stories: ), and a dedicated plant is being built in Austria (sadly, not Australia – yet)

The BZE 2018 report on “Electrifying Industry”

Aussie entrepreneur like Cannon-Brookes exploring for first mover advantage

Robot ship cleaner:

Electric airplanes for cleaner, quieter Australian air travel:

Microfibrillated cellulose material solutions:

Living Buildings Australia:

Cape Patterson sustainable housing in Victoria:

NSW property developer Darren Pearson builds homes that sell themselves:

Next generation regenerative action on climate solutions:




Original music and audio editing assistance by Ian Hopkinson, Human Hacker  and serial digital entrepreneur.


Support the show:


It turns out we get to reimagine the world and rebuild it all. And along the way, not only can we address climate change, we can address biodiversity and water and forest and ocean health we get to reimagine how we live equity and justice and community and resilience. So I think climate change represents kind of a reboot opportunity for the planet. Dr Jonathan Foley, CEO Project Drawdown

Hello, and welcome to regenomics, downunder, where we explore the wealth of Climate Solutions happening on the ground in Australia and around the world. I'm your host, LeighBaker, a supply chain analyst turned regenerative business blogger and podcaster. The show is all about happening climate solutions. And today we're going a bit deeper into the work of project drawdown, the first ever independent research quantifying how we can fix global warming with existing scalable commercial solutions.

We covered the why and what of drawdown and its rigorous evidence based modeling in an earlier podcast and there's a link in the show notes.

In today's episode, we're going to explore the key solution sectors, and also take a look at how the Solutions combine and how they translate into on the ground action.

Project drawdown is one of the biggest research contributions to reversing global warming in recent years. Their rigorous detailed analysis and modeling of today's current multi benefit commercial solutions tells us what is most important to do and what we can accelerate in order to stop and reverse global warming,

the drawdown team didn't discover anything. What they've done is to reflect back to the human race, what we're already doing. And what it's most powerful to do more of.

One of the foundation findings of drawdown was that the goal of getting to zero is just insufficient. We need to design far more creatively, and to reimagine all our systems. Systems like agriculture, buildings, land use materials and industry. These systems are every bit as important as electricity generation and transport that we hear about every day.

Another finding was the top at commercial scaling, evidence based solutions are multi benefit opportunities for business and community development in regions around the world. Not only are they so good that we'd do them, even if global warming wasn't a problem --over any reasonable investment horizon, they actually save money and make money. Here's Dr. Jonathan Foley current head of project drawdown explaining what's on offer.

Well, initially, yeah, you got to pony up a little bit of money turns out $20 to $30 trillion. But if we do this, and we do it over about two to three decades, we actually make between $90 and $150 trillion back. This is incredible, because we're going to save a lot of money, we'll make new revenues. And in fact, this is probably the biggest business opportunity in human history. Dr Jonathan Foley, CEO Project Drawdown

So if you want global warming reversed, you don't just have to campaign for further national government policy change, or big business action, and wait and worry and hope in the meantime, if you're a concerned citizen, and you want a better result for your community and your ecosystems in your region, you now have a shopping list of actions that goes way beyond consume less and lobby for government action. And in fact, citizen innovators have been doing these things for decades in Australia, as well as around the world.

So today, we're going to take a look into drawdown solution sectors to explore their systems implications and their regional development opportunities. We'll use current local examples that illustrate a small fraction of what's already happening and what you can be part of

the start of reversing global warming is to step back and think about systems and reimagine systems. At the moment, most of our production systems, those systems that deliver the goods and services we use every day, are still working on old fashioned 20th century. One way assumptions, whether it's the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, The energy we consume or the technology we use. Most of the systems that deliver them were designed in the 20th century with a fundamental, but unspoken assumption. They assumed that we could extract resources forever, and dump wastes indefinitely, .

Most of our systems were never actually designed to regenerate communities and ecosystems, so they don't! In order to get the maximum results in minimum time, and to keep global warming under two degrees C, we need to work on the goals of the systems, and the design and the construction of those systems.

And if that floats your boat, the best way to start could well be locally, regionally, with the bit of the economic system that operates in your region, exploring for ways to make the systems in your region into ones that actively regenerate ecosystems and communities. That way, we end up with systems that are inherently regenerative rather than degenerative. And we don't end up having to deal with a whole lot of further problems.

When the drawdown crew got into their research back in 2014, they started by collecting and evaluating 1000s of solutions from millions of inventive creative people. So when they collected qualified modelled , and ranked the solutions we already have, they uncovered a rich, varied set of commercial opportunities, solutions that are way more actionable, and more fun than most people know.

today's podcast episode is based on the drawdown 2020 review, which update the original modeling results published in 2017. drawdown is an ongoing project with detailed results in the pipeline, and more solutions under study, The Drawdown 2020 review is a free download, and there's a link in the podcast notes.

Reversing global warming is a whole of system challenge. There's more to the game than zero emissions, because of just how quickly air emissions have grown in the last 50 or 60 years. So yes, zero emissions is a key strategy. But it's one of three action areas, we definitely need to get to zero emissions. And we need to do a whole lot more. And the good news is that doing those things can make a cleaner, safer, fairer world anyway.

One thing that's really important is that we get carbon out of our atmosphere, and back where it belongs using the powerful natural carbon sinks that we already have, like forests and wetlands, then we need to investigate and apply technology based sinks as they develop. And that's not just carbon capture and storage at big power plants. That's all sorts of things packaging materials made from carbon dioxide, biochar to improve soil. So the second and important focus for reversing global warming is to support sinks.

And to achieve these goals at maximum velocity, we need a fairer, more equal society. One where people are empowered and enabled to be part of the solution, not driven to desperation and destruction by poverty, ignorance and inequality. So we need to actively improve society in order to reverse global warming. It's not just a nice, feel good optional extra.

We get to reimagine our world. So make yourself a warm beverage get comfy. And let's dive into the drawdown review and the wealth of specific commercial evidence based actions that are being used today to reverse global warming by reducing emissions supporting carbon sinks and improving society. Along the way, we'll explore some fascinating examples of the amazing ways that inventors and citizen innovators have been busy delivering solutions in Australia as well as around the world.

We're going to flip the drawdown sequence so what we're going to look at to start with is improving society. Then how we can support carbon sinks. And finally, the big bucket of opportunity that's called emissions reduction.

Most of the drawdown solutions except nuclear power, have multiple benefits and making the world better will get us To draw down faster. Regenerative agriculture improves on farm income and captures carbon in the soil. Community Solar creates local jobs and keeps money circulating in local communities. Insulation doesn't just save energy. It also reduces mold and increases health. A plant rich diet reduces obesity as well as emissions.

You're listening to regenomics down under with Leigh Baker.

One of the "who knew!?" Findings from drawdown that was unexpected even for the analysts was that education and accessible affordable health services aren't just desirable side effects. They're powerful, effective solutions for reversing global warming in their own right. They rank at the top of the list. They're up there with wind turbines and tropical forest regeneration and reducing food waste. They're there because that's what the math tells us. They're not just some altruistic opinion.

The improve society solutions modeled and ranked so far by the drawdown numbers people, educating girls and accessible family planning. Education is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and they actively manage their reproductive health. Educated girls earn higher wages contributing to economic growth. Their agricultural plots are more productive and their families are better nourished, they are more resilient and better able to respond to changing environments.

educating girls is population control by empowerment.

So to fully enable that, accessible, affordable family planning is the second key that can be quantified and modeled. Giving women choice with voluntary high quality, affordable family planning around the world would have positive impacts on the health, welfare and life expectancy of both women and their children and it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One study found that 225 million women in lower income zones say they want the ability to choose whether and when to become pregnant but lack the necessary access to contraception. .

Education and Health are fundamental to rapidly reversing global warming. There are other likely solutions yet to be quantified. And one example of these is supporting indigenous communities. Because when indigenous communities are supported to help protect their landscapes, especially forest, those communities manage the environment in ways that absorb more carbon, are more productive and are more biologically diverse than the landscapes around them.

So equality helps reverse global warming. In the Amazon sustainable agroforestry projects Empower indigenous people to protect and make a living from restoring forests, instead of clearing them to grow cash crops. In Queensland in 2020. We have the land restoration fund created and funded to generate local and indigenous jobs restoring degraded land in rural regions. So overall, improving society is a solution for reversing global warming, not just a side benefit.

The second of the three solution spaces for reversing global warming is to support, restore and enhance carbon sinks, particularly the existing powerful land, coastal and ocean sinks of the natural environment. There's a cluster of climate solutions around land sinks. That cluster is round waste and diet as well as ecosystem protection and restoration along with improved agricultural practices and the recovery of degraded land.

The evidence based drawdown modeling found that part of the strategy for supporting land sinks is to address food waste and diet. reducing food waste and shifting to a plant rich diet are two critical interventions that prevent deforestation, lower demand for food and farmland spares nature from additional clearing, and that protects carbon sinks.

We can protect and restore land based ecosystems. We can let nature be nature. We can let peatlands, grasslands and forests continue to do what they do best by protecting them from human disturbance. And there's more. Where ecosystems have become degraded by poor farming techniques or unnecessary clearing restoration can help them recuperate form and function, including absorbing and storing more carbon as they produce crops. The good news is that agricultural land can be a carbon sink, growing crops grazing animals, harvesting food and materials can be a means of regenerating soil carbon

There's a whole array of emission reducing regenerative agricultural practices that are being recovered and developed worldwide. Many of them now have numbers supporting their capacity to make agriculture an active carbon sink. Smarter farming practice including Aussie developments like permaculture keyline and natural sequence farming, are turning agricultural land into drought resistant active carbon sinks that produce more crops with less inputs, which is more income for the farmer. , so better, smarter. regenerative agriculture is a win win. And every solution that sustainably raises yields on existing farmland also reduces the pressure to clear new land .

A further part of Agriculture and Land Use is that we can restore and regenerate degraded land. Because degraded lands aren't lost. They can be used in ways that revive their productivity increased biomass, which captures carbon and all while producing wood, fiber or food. sustainable agroforestry in the Amazon can make degraded land that was cleared from rainforest more effective as a carbon sink while feeding indigenous people, creating employment and growing healthier food.

In Australia. There's cool stuff happening at a variety of levels both public and private in Victoria to Trust for Nature purchases protect and resells unique and important conservation properties, They purchase private properties, the land is restored and then its sold to new owners with the ongoing protection of a conservation covenant. And the sale creates a revolving fund to enable more land to be restored.

And again moves such as the Queensland Government's land restoration fund are taking this out of the private for purpose sector and making it part of public policy. To me it's particularly important to note that the legwork, design, number crunching, funding acquisition and relationship building behind the land restoration fund was driven by a small group of local scientists. There's more of their story in our first drawdown podcast if you're interested.

it's not just dry land that can be a carbon sink. Coastal and ocean regions can capture carbon and reverse global warming. Protecting and regenerating coastal and ocean carbon sinks are solutions included in drawdown’s evidence based action list. The solutions start with protecting and restoring oceanic ecosystems. Ecosystem protection is also about mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows because all of these systems support ongoing photosynthesis and carbon storage. Because these blue carbon ecosystems have been lost or degraded in many places due to coastal development, restoration has a vital role to play.

In Australia's tropical north. A small group of collaborative organizations created reef credits. It's a system similar to carbon credits but it enables farmers to protect their coastal ecosystems through reduced soil and chemical runoff and get paid for it. by the way, the same group is working on land sinks , and planning to use the same approach to develop cassowary credits. regenerating land based eco . systems that don't directly impact the Great Barrier Reef catchment area.

And these initiatives are just the beginning for ocean sinks . There's a lot of future potential in developing , oceans things that is yet to be quantified in peer reviewed data sets. Seaweed is actually more efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide than the Amazonian rainforest. So there is a growing interest in developments such as marine permaculture, using fast growing seaweeds and kelps to provide food, regenerate ocean habitat and sequester carbon. Australia's first seaweed platform is already underway off Tasmania's east coast. It's a platform that will be home to floating kelp forests. Those forests will provide food, fuel and fertilizer, a home for marine life, and all this while drawing down carbon from the atmosphere.

Further north up on the New South Wales south coast, Australia's first factory manufacturing food grade seaweed products from a unique domestic species opened in 2020 and is scaling to tap into the $13 billion global seaweed industry. Other as yet, unquantified developments are things like restoring shellfish beds, like oyster beds, because oyster shells are made up of calcium carbonate, and in fact, oysters are an ecological superhero, land them on a reef and let that reef grow, and they can increase marine biodiversity, clean coastal waters, enhance the nearby seagrass beds and reduce coastal erosion. And when they cement together, their aggregations create habitat for a great diversity of other species. In 2016, a project to restore oysters to Oyster Bay in Western Australia was operated. Then in 2017, the largest oyster reef restoration project outside the United States got underway in South Australia.

So the oceans, and the wetlands and coastal areas are all valuable carbon sinks that we can protect and restore. And there is increasing recognition of the massive potential to be a part of reversing global warming.

Reefs on natural solutions to some of the greatest conservation challenges of our time. They improve water quality, boost fish stocks, and provide homes for a huge range of sea life like colorful sponges and crabs. With your help the Nature Conservancy is bringing back the lost reefs of oyster Harbor, a pioneer project for Western Australia, the first two reefs have now been completed. These reefs are now home to around 1 million Native Australian flat oysters. They are helping to restore an ecosystem which has been extinct in the area for over 150 years. The combined impact of overharvesting, sediment loads from catchment clearing and disease meant the oyster reefs of oyster harbor were no more. The loss of the reefs resulted in a dramatic decline in the benefits they provide reefs across southern Australia all suffered a similar fate. But the Nature Conservancy without community industry and government partners are now using science to restore these rare but important ecosystems. To reconstruct the reefs. We used around 1000 tons of screened limestone rocks to colonize the new reefs. The Albany Shellfish Hatchery grew oysters from broodstock collected from the harbor. Local divers spread the oysters out across the reef bases, which would very quickly colonize a range of fish including cobbler, cuttlefish, squid, and even the occasional seal already starting to use the habitat these reefs provide. These reefs have created jobs and broader economic stimulation to the local region.

Leigh Baker

Now there's a third family of carbon sinks, engineered sinks created by humans. It's looking feasible from the science that we have considerable potential to create human systems to draw down carbon, but not a lot of it is commercial scaling and supported by peer reviewed datasets. What is fascinating is the one proven solution that can be quantified isn't carbon capture and storage at a big power station. In fact, it's a process that goes back to ancient Amazonia. It's biochar. Biochar is a material that's created by slowly baking things like wood and plant waste in the absence of oxygen. By doing it without oxygen. The process keeps most of the feedstock's carbon in solid form. And the biochar can then be added to soil making the soil more productive and storing the carbon in the soil. All sorts of waste can be baked into biochar. Things like peanut shells and rice straw and corn husks. So degraded farmland soils could be restored using biochar from on-farm waste. Imagine scaling that.

Carbon in the right place is great. But we've put way too much in the atmosphere over the past few decades. Nature is already pulling around 40% of what we emit back to where it belongs. And it turns out that helping her do more of what she does so well is a key part of reversing global warming.

So land sinks, coastal sinks, and ocean sinks are key solutions, along with scaling human engineered sinks as they develop. So improving society and supporting carbon sinks, two key elements of reversing global warming, the more emissions that we absorb, the closer we can keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. So now let's move on and talk about reducing those emissions.

Everybody's heard a lot about electricity generation and transport. And that's just the beginning. Currently, our emissions are 25% electricity production 24% Food, Agriculture and Land Use, 21% industry, 14% transportation, 6% buildings ,10% other emissions, leaking gas pipe lines the like. So the opportunity for reducing emissions covers all those sectors, food, agriculture, land use, industry and buildings. All of these have a role to play alongside electricity generation and transport.

In this rich whole of economy challenge, big government policy and people using less like the pastry on a vanilla slice, necessary. But there's a wealth of cool, exciting action in the messy sticky tasty filling in between. So let's take a stroll through where and how current commercial emission reducing climate solutions are scaling. Starting with electricity generation.

Electricity generation solutions are actually a much richer and more interesting space that many people are aware of. It's about way more than solar panels and wind turbines. The solutions fall into three main areas, shifting generation to renewable sources that are free of emissions. But there's also radically increasing our energy efficiency everywhere. And there's systems improvements. Updating the 19th century design of our electricity grid to smarter more distributed, more integrated systems using the best of our information technology. In the electricity generation sector summary of drawdown there are 32 Yes, that's 32 commercial evidence based solution.

Shifting generation include solar and wind energy, but it also includes ocean power, geothermal energy, and landfill methane capture as well as energy storage. increasing energy efficiency. Yeah, home insulation is obvious, but it also includes smart thermostats, green roofs, and district level heating and cooling systems.

And remember, every time you use water, you use electricity to pump that water to where you use it. Water efficiency is energy efficiency. So include low flow, shower fittings and water distribution efficiency in energy efficiency.

Improving the energy system includes solutions like increasing the flexibility of the power grid with large scale storage like Snowy Hydro and the South Australian big battery. It also includes a range of Smarter purchasing and trading options for load balancing.

One of the keys to the drawdown solutions is reimagining the systems that deliver our products and services, as well as the making of those products and services and design intent is powerful.

One creative example comes from an accountant I know who had his offices refurbished some years ago. While the Sparky was on the job. He got him to wire in a single master switch by the staff exit so that when the last one out turned out the lights for the night, everything unnecessary was turned off. So he designed out "remembering"

Another improvement in the energy system is one that's about distribution. That's like the computer industry. years ago. They were great big computers in freezing cold rooms and only specialists ran them. These days. Instead of the big generators making power and pushing it into system, more individuals, more communities and more enterprises are making it regionally.

In one country Victorian township that I visit some independent can do, citizen innovators decided that they wanted their town to have its own dedicated renewable energy supply. So back in 2014, they started totally renewable yackandandah It's a volunteer run community group was a big hairy goal of powering their small town with 100% renewable independent energy by 2022.

They started with solar panels moved on to storage and micro grids, scaled up with more solar and more storage then started their own energy retailer with a bit of help from crowdfunding so that they could trade the energy between their members. Back in 2019, they set up their own award winning virtual power plant. And the Yack guys are following in the footsteps of many other community solar projects around the country and around the world. And more happening every day helped along by crowdfunding and revolving community funds. In Australia, the Coalition for Community Energy that was set up back in 2014 now has more than 100 members.

the wealth of creative energy solutions that are going way beyond 20th century design thinking is massive. , if energy floats your boat, then go and have a look at the Renew Economy website- link in the show notes.

So energy emissions, the first and a biggie. But before the drawdown research, who knew that the next most impactful source of emissions was Food, Agriculture and Land Use. Together, they comprise 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It's also a challenge far broader than stopping tropical forest destruction .

So first of all, let's look at food. In the original 2017 drawdown modeling two of the who knew? Findings were firstly, the third most powerful solution for reversing global warming is to reduce food waste. And the fourth most powerful solution for reversing global warming is to eat a plant rich diet. And those numbers didn't shift significantly in the 2020 update.

That means in reimagining our systems, we need to firstly build food systems that ensure what gets grown gets eaten, then we need to enable systems that mean we can enjoy eating lower on the food chain, a healthy plant rich diet . Overall drawdowns modeling indicates that ethical meat in moderation is a sustainable option, just not the fat rich, meat centric Western diet that's trending globally at the moment.

When you eliminate food waste and eat more plants. The result of these two foods solution is a reduction in the inputs required for farming, a reduction in the need for land clearing, and when we do them, we reduce all the emissions associated with food production on land use.

When you think reduced food waste, you might automatically think of supermarkets selling oddbod non standard vegetables or charities like Oz Harvest collecting food and redirecting it to supportive organizations. And these are both excellent initiatives. But how else can we reimagine our whole food system so that waste just isn't a part of businesses usual at all?

One example at the retail level is bring me home. A Melbourne Uni student developed an app. That app allows retailers to offer discounted food online daily. The food entrepreneurs bring me home have made it their mission to eliminate food waste in the retail space by making unsold food affordable and accessible to everyone. A nice bit of creative thinking using current technology

Did you know 1/3 of all food produced goes to waste. That's enough to fill 2 million Olympic sized pools. If food waste were a country, it would rank third in greenhouse gas emissions. Every day cafes, restaurants, and stores throw out quality food that goes unsold. Wouldn't you rather bring them home at a lower price? With Bring Me Home's app, you can now rescue delicious food, save money while earning rewards and help the environment. Just browse through the app to discover food near you. Select the number of meals you want, pay directly on the app and show your receipt to collect your meal.

A massive amount of food is wasted before it ever leaves the farm. Each year, about 14% of the world's food is lost before it ever reaches the market. So another part of the solution is innovations, innovations that turn farm excess into valuable products. In the Amazon, there are developments underway to use the latest freeze drying technology to process tropical fruits close to their source, maximizing their quality and nutrient value while minimizing freight costs and creating local jobs.

Locally, one pair of Aussie banana farmers started out turning their excess green bananas into gluten free flour and then discovered that their product has valuable medicinal properties as well. So there are lots of creative rewarding ways to solve food waste and more happening every day. So that's the food area.

The next action area in food Agriculture and Land Use is to protect ecosystems because when land and ecosystems are deliberately protected, the activities that release carbon from vegetation and soil are stopped before they start. So protecting and regenerating local ecosystems makes a whole lot of climate sense. Actions here include forest protection, but also grassland protection, peat land rewetting and indigenous peoples land management.

As well as protecting ecosystems, we can shift our agricultural practices. This is super powerful, because when we do agriculture as though the planet matters. It turns out that we don't just reduce emissions, we actually create farming land that's an active carbon sink. So it's a two for one win. Smarter regenerative agriculture practices lower emissions from cropland and pastures. They lower the methane generated by growing rice and raising ruminants. They lower the nitrous oxide emitted from manure and from overusing fertilizers, they lower the carbon dioxide emitted by disturbing soils unnecessarily.

So you'll find the drawdown 2020 Review lists solutions like better nutrient management farming irrigation efficiency, smarter rice production silvopasture, which is animals under trees, and it also includes things like regenerative annual cropping.

In Australia, we can be proud that we're the home of permaculture, natural sequence farming and other forms of regenerative agriculture. These forms are actually taking hold quietly. Because it turns out they're better for the farmer as well for the land. They use less inputs, they create better value, and they transform farming land into carbon sinks. To borrow from an old jazz classic. It aint what you grow. It's the way that you grow it.

We've talked about electricity generation Food, Agriculture and Land Use. Next up is industry which is directly responsible for 21% of all heat trapping emissions. In particular, the production of cement , the production of iron and steel, top the emissions charts, aluminium fertilizers, paper, plastics, processed food, textiles, clothing, all of these pile up the problem.

So key action areas are to improve the way materials are made to improve the materials themselves to use waste, not make it and to enhance efficiency. And a fourth one that showed up in industry was the powerful impact of refrigerant gases.

There's been a lot of focus on industry solutions over the years starting back in the 90s. So we have a wealth of new approaches and design principles in use, and they're spreading.

So how can we improve materials, a starting point the plastics, metals and cement that we use constantly and pretty much everywhere. They are big emitters and that makes them prime candidates for improvement and replacement replacement with better alternatives that can meet the same needs but with lower emissions. Engineers have been busy On this for decades, and now there are commercial solutions being scaled .

Alternative cements based on polymers instead of lime have been developing for decades, and they're now being adopted for structural uses. The building industry is historically conservative and operates on low margins. But there's enough technology and enough demand that Polymer base concrete is now being used for structural projects in Brisbane. And not just for low risk applications like landing pads and staircases.

There's a new range of materials on the market produced from plant fiber, using just renewable energy and water. These materials can replace structural plastics from polystyrene to chipboard and be safely composted at the end of their life.

So if this sort of thing excites you, it could well be worth exploring a field called biomimicry, which is all about the way nature produces high performance materials and designs. Biomimicry has been used over the years to design the nose of bullet trains, to make faster swimsuits, and to produce water efficiency technology based on whirlpools and tornados. Basically, biomimicry uses physics and biology rather than 20th century mechanical and chemical engineering is a fun space, and there'll be a link in the show notes.

Next up, is actually let's use waste. That's how nature runs a forest, not by practicing scarcity. But by making sure that everything created in the forest becomes a feedstock for something else in the forest or in any mature ecosystem. We sort of forgot that in the 20th century, and waste became a fact of life estimated and allowed for in every production costing budget. And because waste just is, there was no real consideration given to designing for remanufacture or for reuse.

So plastics are a problem, because nobody designed them for reuse. They're designed to be produced nicely and to take ink. They're not designed to be safely remanufactured into more high quality plastic at end of life. They are chemical nightmare. But when the design thinking changes, so does the accounting, and every bit of waste that we design out of existence also reduces raw material consumption and energy use and emissions.

If you're in the manufacturing space, you might have heard of something called the circular economy, which some people think is just the latest fashion. It's actually a bit more than that, because it's been around since the 1990s. And the companies that practice it strategically are putting dollars on their bottom line, and lots of them. This isn't just about plastic bags, it's about electronics, and cars and clothes. There's been a whole lot of work done on turning the old one way, mine make use dump delivery systems that we inherited from the 20th century into circular systems that recirculate high quality materials for ongoing remanufacture.

Electronics Recycling is up to 95% in the South America's. In Australia, innovative companies like repeat plastics and close the loop have been turning old plastic into products for decades. They started with picnic furniture and bollards and they're now onto highly engineered materials, including ashphalt additives that make road surfaces stronger.

So a key industry strategy for emissions reduction is redesigning systems so that waste isn't waste anymore, because there is no "away" for it to go.

Another industry opportunity is around refrigerant gases. Because one of the truly unexpected findings of project drawdown was to quantify the massive impact that refrigerant gases have on global warming. Because unfortunately, when we "solved" the hole in the ozone layer back last century, we solved it by replacing chloro fluorocarbons with hydro chloro fluorocarbons. And it turns out that they may be better for the ozone layer, but they are hundreds of times more powerful as greenhouse gases.

So for industry, one challenge is to make sure that they're well controlled. In the short term, we need to make sure that refrigerant gases are well controlled. In the long term, we need to replace them with beneficial alternatives that don't do unexpected harm. Overall, managing refrigerant gases is a bigger problem in developing countries than it is in places like Australia. But we still need to take extra care. It is important to make sure that appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners aren't leaking and that they really are properly disposed off

Okay, so let's talk efficiency now. Shouldn't be a problem for industry that's been their middle name for decades. So all the skills that industry has on general efficiency can be applied to emission reduction. Industry and especially heavy industry present some of the biggest challenges for reducing emissions to zero. The way we currently manufacture concrete, which is absolutely essential in modern construction, releases a huge amount of carbon dioxide. So do other industrial processes, particularly fabricating steel and smelting aluminium, these require very high temperatures, and at the moment, we get those high temperatures by burning fossil fuels. And this is changing and that change could spread as quickly as smartphones.

The first zero carbon steel was produced in Germany, using hydrogen instead of coal in 2019. And a dedicated plant is under construction in Austria, not Australia. We have all the sun and all the iron ore. But Australia has the potential to be a top exporter of zero carbon steel and renewable hydrogen, according to our local think tank beyond zero emissions. And if you work in industry, their 2018 report on electrifying industry outlines multiple key strategies that Australian industry could use to make a whole range of existing products was much lower emissions.

Electrifying industry includes things like heat pumps, electromagnetic heating, electric furnaces, renewable hydrogen and storing electricity as heat . These existing technologies are available for use in the manufacturing of everyday products from food and paper to bricks and plastic and steel. And if you watch the right media, you'll find out that leading Aussie entrepreneurs like Mike cannon Brooks and Andrew Twiggy, Forrest aren't hanging around waiting for changes in government policy. They're exploring for first mover advantage. So it ain't what you make, it's the way that you make it.

So let's move on to transportation. It is a key industry sector through reversing global warming. And there's a whole lot more to it than E Vs and traveling less. So don't just think alternative fuel. Also think of alternative modes of mobility because there are lots of different ways to reduce demand for fossil fuel transport. So that could be the electric buses in Adelaide and Sydney. We also have electric bicycles that these days are making traveling by treadlie much more enjoyable for a whole lot of people who might not otherwise ride and guess what they're COVID safe.

With public and shared transport, we can make the most of available seats. By designing our cities for walking, creating good bike infrastructure and using teleconferencing. There are a whole range of ways that we can reduce our emissions- by walking, cycling, or simply staying put and teleconferencing. More bike paths and more teleconferencing are part of the deal and both of them have had a massive boost in the last 12 months.

Transportation is another place where we can enhance efficiency. Where you need combustion engines vehicles can be made far more fuel efficient. There are mechanical improvements, there are new materials that are super lightweight, even just better design and more intelligent operation. When you think at the system's level about transport efficiency, there are lots of places to intervene. Intelligent Transport Systems using artificial intelligence and computing power can improve the way traffic flows within a city.

There's also a great story from 2020 about shipping companies that are using hull cleaning robots. These robots clean all the gunk off container ship hulls and that reduces friction. In one project that started back in 2015, they were found to create a 12.5 reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The robot operates in port while the ships are loading and unloading so their maintenance downtime is reduced and the clean hulls mean reduced environmental contamination in harbors. Efficiency everywhere. These robots are a win win win. improved fuel efficiency, Clean Harbors less maintenance cost, and that means that they're efficient enough that they can be swapped to alternative fuels like hydrogen.

Another way to reduce emissions is electrifying vehicles, not just cars, buses and trucks and delivery vans, because when you electrify vehicles, you'd replace petroleum. And that reduces emissions where you driving the vehicle, add in renewable electricity and down to the emissions. In Australia, a wider and less expensive range of EVs is available through the special enthusiast vehicles scheme , which allows the imported vehicles that have been passed over by local car distributors.

So now we have a wider choice than the models that the international companies choose to sell us at retail. And if you're in the market for a cargo van, Australia actually has its own locally made electric option on the market launched in 2019. So our vehicle industry isn't quite dead.

Electrification isn't just about road transport anymore. With moves to electric powered flight. The electric planes coming down the pipeline are smaller and lighter and quieter. And they will actually add flexibility to air travel in Australia without adding emissions. And it's not just new electric planes either. Our existing Australian fleet is starting to be converted as well with Sydney Seaplanes seeking approval for an existing Cessna Caravan to be converted to electric in late 2020. So it ain't where you move. It's the way that you move things.

Next up is buildings. It's no surprise that buildings are major drivers of emissions. Some emissions come from the materials they're made of like concrete and steel, and more come from the processes used to build, renovate and demolish them. And many more emissions are the result of their use through their life, including the fuels burned on site to heat the spaces, heat, water and for cooking. And remember those chemicals, those refrigerant gases? They're used in buildings for cooling and refrigeration. If maintenance isn't good, they can also escape as emissions.

So from direct onsite activity, buildings produced 6% of heat trapping emissions worldwide. Buildings also use more than half of all electricity creating an offsite upstream impact on electricity generation emissions. So actions for reversing global warming in the building sector are about retrofitting existing buildings and creating new buildings in the ways that minimize energy use and emissions.

So the three existing commercial action areas in buildings are , shifting building energy sources, addressing refrigerants and enhancing building efficiency, shifting building energy sources, from polluting fossil energy sources, and moved to electric water heating, electric cooktops, and so forth. In building maintenance, addressing refrigerant gases is important because they're super potent greenhouse gases. Preventing leaks, disposing of refrigerants and replacing today's fluorinated gases with better alternatives are key actions.

Enhancing building efficiency reduces greenhouse emissions. There's a real opportunity for building retrofits and also for brand new construction to do energy efficiency. Water Efficiency is energy efficiency, so stopping water leaks and reducing water usage in evaporative. coolers and other maintenance activities come into play. Even simple maintenance activities count like keeping the cooling coils in refrigeration systems dust free, so they operate at maximum efficiency.

And there are a lot of solutions out there to date yet have peer reviewed datasets because they're things that nobody used to measure. drawdown did find the data to quantify the benefits of smart thermostats and LED lighting. And these are indicative that there's a whole lot more opportunity to reduce emissions out there.

One exciting example from the information revolution comes from the internet of things, because today we have smart building management systems that can measure how well a building is operating. And they have proactive AI based monitoring that picks up small problems before they multiply.

Other upcoming possibilities yet to be quantified. are in building materials. There's everything from Smart Glass to green roofs. Also happening is a rapid growth in the development of the living building movement. Smart designers are creating regenerative buildings, buildings that go beyond zero, and instead are actually designed to absorb greenhouse gases, supply their own water and energy, process their own waste and increase the health of local ecological systems.

Imagine a building that captures polluted water off road surfaces, processes, and filters it well you don't need to imagine it because it's already being built. One example is down at Cape Patterson in Victoria. There's a property development down there where all the buildings are at least 7.5 Star energy efficient homes.

For the past 11 years we've been working tirelessly to create Australia's first truly sustainable housing projects and now that dreams becoming a reality because of this project, good sustainable architecture, clean energy with solar panels, water conservation, protection of the coast and biodiversity and good active lifestyle we've collaborated with Australia's leading sustainability experts to create a truly in a community community features over 50% shared space parks, walking tracks and sporting facilities. The idea of being part of a community where lifestyle and environment exist in total harmony, then look no further than CapePatterson eco Village.

This is a trend that has been quietly developing in Australia since before the GFC. Back then, New South Wales property developer Darren Pearson was nudged into developing sustainable housing when his young daughter stopped talking to him because "he cut down trees!". That little push along with some other nudges in his life led to him taking the sustainability challenge. Now his company is building homes that sell themselves and every bit as affordably as traditional volume builders.

So that's some of the existing and developing solutions in the building sector. A broad palette of practical creative ideas. And the building sector is the last of the key emission reduction sectors identified by the drawdown review. Food, Agriculture, land use, industry and buildings are up there with electricity generation and transport as emissions reduction opportunities.

Okay, time to wrap up this episode. That's the end of our tour of project drawdowns numbers on the top existing commercial multi benefit solutions we already have for reversing global warming. Cumulatively, they're a potential goldmine of business and community development opportunity.

So if the idea of climate solutions from the rules based minds that brought us Robo debt scares you silly, there's a whole world of possibility out there. And one good way into it, is to download the 2020 drawdown review from the link in the show notes. Keep in mind, the drawdown list is just the commercial solutions that can be quantified today using globally accepted forecasts and peer reviewed data.

So use the drawdown reviewed like an ideas springboard, a starting point for regenerating the local ecosystems and economy in the region where you live and work.

Behind the specifics of the drawdown work is a deeper shift, a shift in design thinking. It's like we used to think that the world was flat turns out it's round.. We used to think that the sun went around the Earth. Turns out the sun's the center of the solar system, not our planet.. We used to think that the planets moved in perfect circles. Turns out most orbits are elliptical and they're all different.

In the same way that the mindset behind astronomy has shifted. The mindset around the relationship between sustainability and economics is also shifting. Infinite ecosystem extracting emit exploit thinking is going the way of flat Earth thinking. In its place is a rich array of design solutions for a safer, fairer, more generous future. And in coming episodes, we'll explore some of the ideas becoming a smarter reality.

In the meantime, what are some starting points? Firstly, begin with the end in mind. Regeneration, not just "less harm". It's a whole lot more fun and a whole lot more engaging. Secondly, think locally about your region, your work, your community, your interests and your activities. Teaching vegetarian cooking, or stopping water leaks could be every bit as important as going solar. And thirdly, focus on systems- focus on reimagining and rebuilding the systems that deliver the stuff that we use, not just noble do Gooding and process band aids that really leave the status quo unchallenged.

We actually can't afford not to move towards robust, abundant, regional regenerative economies. So it's well worth exploring how you can get your piece of the action. And here's a final word from Dr. Jonathan Foley, current head of project drawdown in the video drawdown 101.

So to me, I actually look at climate change. Yes, it's a very serious and sometimes depressing problem. But if you start to go beyond that, and you kind of process how kind of scary it is, and you get through that, you start to see it maybe as, hey, there are opportunities here to make the world better, not just for climate change, but for a lot of things. It turns out, we get to reimagine the world and rebuild it all. And along the way, not only can we address climate change, we can address other environmental issues certainly around biodiversity and water, and forest and ocean health and all of that.

We get to reimagine how we live and things like equity and justice and community and resilience- all of these things that we value can also be improved. So I think climate change represents kind of a reboot opportunity for the planet.

Thanks for joining us on this episode of Regenomics down under We hope you enjoyed hearing about Project drawdown solution sectors as much as we enjoyed telling the stories of what's happening down under. Don't forget to check the show notes for links to the drawdown 2020 review and the drawdown 101 video. Also links to the examples that we explored.

Regenomics downunder is brought to you by the climactic collective, the podcast network that's by and for Australia's climate community. My name is Leigh Baker, and I've been your host today. I'd love to hear your feedback, especially any stories that you have on the climate solutions happening on the ground in your region.

You can give the show a rating and review. And we'd really appreciate it if you did from our website Just click on leave a review or find us on pod which is the IMDB for podcasts. Regenomics down under is an ongoing series about the happening climate solutions that you might be a part of. So if you enjoyed this episode, follow the show for more. There's also a wealth of other climate content at

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, just get in touch at and you can find and follow us on social media where we are @climactic show. Here's to making the 2020s a decade of action on climate solutions. Keep active in these climactic times.