US Companies Seek Pathways to 2050 Emission Targets

Press Release
May 28, 2019

Contact: Alec Gerlach,, 703-516-0621

US Companies Seek Pathways to 2050 Emission Targets
All-In Effort Indispensable to Avert Worst Climate Effects

Stream Today’s Event 1:30—3:30 PM: LIVE

WASHINGTON—A new report today from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), based on a year-long collaboration with leading companies, outlines alternative scenarios for decarbonizing the U.S. economy. Key takeaways include the importance of policy in driving technology deployment and the need for all-in effort that includes policymakers at all levels, companies, investors and the public.

Read the Report: Pathways to 2050: Alternative Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy

Review our Interactive Charts

With renewed interest in Washington in long-term climate solutions, the report highlights the fundamental shifts needed across the economy to reduce U.S. emissions 80 percent by 2050 and alternative pathways for achieving them. The report is part of C2ES’s Climate Innovation 2050 initiative and will inform a comprehensive decarbonization strategy to be released later this year.

More than 20 power, oil and gas, transportation, building, manufacturing, agricultural, industrial, and tech companies participated in the development of the three decarbonization scenarios presented in the report. The exercise was led by experts from C2ES, the RAND Corporation, and the Joint Global Change Research Institute.

“This is the first U.S. decarbonization analysis that benefits from close engagement with leading companies across all the key sectors,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “We and the companies came away from this exercise with a much keener sense that technology innovation will require a suite of drivers and no single policy will achieve the needed results. We’ll now draw on these insights as we develop recommendations for U.S. decarbonization strategies.”

Unlike many previous decarbonization studies focused primarily on technology pathways, the C2ES analysis considered policy options and broader social dynamics. Through a series of workshops, participants developed three distinct scenarios reflecting different drivers and types of policy, technology, business and consumer responses. Modeling showed that all three scenarios reduced emissions 80 percent by 2050.

In brief, the three scenarios are:

  • 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, 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.


In addition to detailed modeling results showing how the energy, emissions, and technology profiles of the economy and its major sectors vary across the scenarios, the report offers a set of key takeaways:

  • Decarbonizing the U.S. economy requires funda­mental shifts in the ways we generate energy, pro­duce goods, deliver services, and manage lands.
  • These fundamental shifts can be achieved through alternative pathways reflecting different drivers, contingencies, and soci­etal choices.
  • Decarbonization requires accelerated action from everyone—policy-makers at all levels, investors, entrepreneurs, con­sumers, voters, and companies across key sectors of the economy.
  • The success of any pathway hinges on high levels of public support, expressed through stronger demand for effective policies and/or low-carbon goods and services.
  • Decarbonization requires a broad suite of policies that drive investment and action by setting goals, targeting resources, providing incentives, and en­suring a level playing field.
  • Technological innovation can greatly facilitate de­carbonization but, without adequate policy drivers, is not sufficient to achieve it.
  • The private sector is an essential partner in any de­carbonization pathway, and timely business leader­ship can help ensure choices that are beneficial for both companies and society as a whole.
  • Sectoral responses are highly interdependent—the pathway chosen by one sector may enhance or con­strain the decarbonization options of others.

“The individual scenarios are interesting, but what’s most valuable are the insights you draw as you construct them and as you look across them,” said Perciasepe. “One of my key takeaways is that companies understand the urgency and magnitude of this challenge and are committed to working with others to deliver durable solutions.”

C2ES today will discuss the report at a Washington event beginning at 1:30 ET. The report’s authors will be joined by corporate leaders to present the findings and discuss how businesses are analyzing their own futures under various climate scenarios.

Please RSVP to C2ES communications director Alec Gerlach at or 703-516-0621.

Release Event: Pathways to 2050: Alternative Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy

Date:                Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Time:               1:30-3:30 p.m. ET


Location:          National Union Building

918 F St NW, 6th Floor South

Washington, DC 20004

Opening Remarks: Bob Perciasepe, President, C2ES


Scenarios Discussion:

  • Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, C2ES
  • Jae Edmonds, Chief Scientist and Battelle Fellow, Joint Global Change Research Institute
  • Ben Preston, Director, Community Health and Environmental Policy Program, RAND Corporation


Business Participant Panel:

  • Bob Stout, Vice President & Head of Regulatory Advocacy & Policy, BP America Inc.
  • Conrad Schatte, Director of Federal Governmental Affairs, Entergy
  • Patricia DiOrio, Vice President for Strategy and Technology, National Grid




About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at