Episode 13: Drawdown: What Happened & What’s Next with Chad Frischmann

With action groups forming from the United States to Cameroon, the success of Drawdown in galvanizing climate action is something that took even the Drawdown team by surprise. In this episode, we take a step back from the sector-by-sector analysis and talk to Drawdown lead researcher and principal architect of methodology and modelling Chad Frischmann to discuss Drawdown’s impact as a climate communication tool and the team’s plans moving forwards.

According to Chad, Drawdown’s success is due to the fact it represents a marker on the horizon for a common a vision of “a future we want”. Reflecting on the past twenty-five years of climate communication, Chad stresses that the emphasis on fear and conflict and the use of martial language around emissions reductions has only instilled a sense of distance and apathy among people. In essence, communicators have been “marketing the wrong thing”. Instead, Drawdown’s approach that focuses on collaboration and the tangible solutions with cascading social benefits makes resolving the climate crisis seem rational and desirable. However, Drawdown is more than a list of solutions. Taken together, it represents a radical system change from one that is inherently destructive and exploitative, to one that is regenerative and distributive.

As well as discussing Drawdown’s success as a communications tool, we also consider developments in the space since the book’s publication in 2017. With regards to the twenty “coming attractions” in the book, Chad emphasizes that our limited carbon budget means we are in a climate emergency and that we can and must strive to achieve drawdown with the solutions already available. However, it is clear that when they come online, these could be crucial in hastening the journey towards drawdown. Although the “coming attractions” are all on different time-frames of adaptation some of them, like marine permacultureocean farming and using asparagopsis taxiformis as animal feed, could be around the corner and will soon be modelled as solutions.

We also discuss Drawdown as a tool for policy makers. While the book’s modelling is global in nature, implementing solutions, by municipalities, businesses or community groups, will be dependent on local considerations and contexts. We also touch-on developments in the climate movement, notably with the school strikes and Extinction Rebellion and also discuss Drawdown’s future iterations and their ambition of reaching a billion people.

A coalition-builder and systems strategist, Chad Frischmann works to reverse global warming and build a new, regenerative future with cascading benefits to the environment and to human well-being. He is the lead researcher and principal architect of the methodology and models behind Project Drawdown. In collaboration with leading environmentalist Paul Hawken and a global team of researchers and thought leaders, Chad designed sophisticated models to assess the world’s most effective climate solutions and determine if, when, and how the world can reach “drawdown”. As head of research since Project Drawdown’s inception, Chad is a key spokesperson and coalition-builder dedicated to sharing the message and model of Drawdown with the world.

With a multidisciplinary background in public policy, human rights, sustainable development, and environmental conservation, Chad provides a systems-based approach to research and strategic leadership. Previously, Chad was the Senior Program Officer at The Europaeum, an association of leading European universities; taught at the University of Oxford and the University of California at Berkeley; and worked as a consultant and researcher for numerous organizations, from small grassroots non-profits to UN agencies such as UNESCO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.