- Journal Article
Abstract: Growing societal pressures, technological trends and government and industry actions are moving the world toward decarbonization and away from “business-as-usual.” As such, the concept of a single/obvious “business as usual” or “reference” scenario is no longer relevant. Instead, there are multiple plausible futures that should be explored. We contribute one such scenario that carefully considers emissions-reduction trends and actions that are likely in the future, absent a globally coordinated mitigation effort. We explore the long-term implications for energy, emissions and temperature outcomes if the world continues to address climate change in the way it has so far—through piecemeal actions and growing social and technological pressures.
This Growing Pressures scenario results in a central scenario outcome of about 3°C of surface temperature warming, which is higher than the “well below 2°C” level aspired to by the Paris Agreement, but lower than many widely used “no-policy” scenarios. Ongoing and growing pressures of change, the roots of which are clearly visible today, could deliver a plausible energy transition scenario to near-zero emissions that plays out over the coming century.
While a more aggressive transition is clearly required, this finding highlights the need to bring actions forward in time to achieve an improved outcome making use of clearly identifiable policies and technologies.