As part of Climate Innovation 2050, C2ES led a group of companies in a collaborative exercise examining potential scenarios for decarbonizing the U.S. economy. The result is a set of three scenarios for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. A final report, Pathways to 2050: Alternative Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy, presents the detailed scenarios and a set of key takeaways.
Below are 1) quick descriptions of the three scenarios, 2) some results from our quantitative modeling of them, 3) key takeaways, and 4) a summary of key policies and other drivers in each scenario.
C2ES was joined in this exercise by colleagues at the RAND Corporation and at the Joint Global Change Research Institute (a partnership between the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland). More than two dozen leading companies across key sectors participated.
The 3 Scenarios
A Competitive Climate: Strong international pressure in the form of carbon tariffs and growing recognition of the competitive benefits of low-carbon innovation lead to a strong, early U.S. federal response, including an economy-wide price on carbon.
Climate Federalism: Responding to economic opportunities and intensifying climate-related disasters, a growing number of U.S. states implement ambitious climate policies, leading to calls from business for a more harmonized national response.
Low-Carbon Lifestyles: Increased urbanization, generational shifts, and technological breakthroughs lead to strong market demand for low- carbon consumption products and services, along with the emergence of innovative low-carbon business models.
GHG emissions by sector
Reducing U.S. emissions by 80 percent requires action across all the major sectors of the economy. The figure below shows emissions and negative emissions by sector for each scenario in 2030 and 2050.