2050 Pathways

The Under2 Coalition, of which The Climate Group is Secretariat, helps members chart an achievable path towards net zero emissions. As part of this work, we provide direct technical support and resources to help governments complete ‘2050 Pathways’ analyses.

The 2050 Pathways process starts with a government’s long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal, and then works backwards to identify the technologies, infrastructure and investments that will be required to achieve it, as well as the costs, risks and trade-offs associated with different policy approaches.

When conducted alongside government agencies, the process helps policymakers by identifying intermediate targets that must be achieved, potential “forks in the road” (mutually exclusive technology options), and emissions “dead ends” (short-term solutions that make it impossible to achieve long-term goals).

A 2050 Pathway lays out choices for stakeholders and helps them understand the timeline for decision making. Stakeholders can include implementers such as electric utilities, petroleum refineries, as well as the consumers who will live in the decarbonized energy system.

A 2050 Pathways Analysis is typically completed in 4 steps:

Step 1: Analyze technical and economic feasibility

This step provides a basic vision for decarbonization.

Step 2: Narrow the technological options

As political context is added and policy decisions are made the technical options will be removed, narrowing the potential pathways. This helps to establish a better roadmap for decision making.

Step 3: Stakeholders undertake strategic analysis responding to political and policy directives

In this step information from other regulatory proceedings is incorporated into the pathway while simultaneously stakeholders respond to the policy directives of the pathway. As information flows in to adjacent processes (such as electric utility’s resource planning) the lessons from the pathway will be incorporated.

Step 4: Incorporate the effects of new policies

The step speaks to the need to keep the analysis process oriented and incorporate the effects of new policies.

Deep Decarbonization: Transformation of the energy economy consistent with keeping global warming less than 2°C

Pathway: Plan or blueprint to achieve deep decarbonization of the energy system 

Energy System: The network of all energy producing, converting, delivering, or consuming infrastructure

In the lead up to the 21st United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 21), states, regions, and cities around the world demonstrated extraordinary leadership by supporting the Paris Agreement, and backing up their words with ambitious long-term GHG reduction commitments.

Within the Under2 Coalition, more than 200 jurisdictions representing more than 40 countries across six continents have signed or endorsed the climate agreement, known as the Under2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). The Under2 MOU has an ambitious emissions reduction goal of reducing emissions to 2 tons per capita, or 80-95% below 1990 level by 2050.

Several governments have taken the next step by assessing their options to achieve this commitment. The 2050 Pathways process uses local data, to analyse the work that needs to be done across sectors, in terms of the technology, infrastructure and investments that will be required over time.

Our pathways analyses help policymakers understand the costs, risks, and trade-offs that come with different policy choices and supports member governments to make informed policy decisions.

2050 Pathways

For more info, contact:
Jody Dean, The Climate Group
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