The future is uncertain.

The NGFS climate scenarios provide a window into different plausible futures.

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of this decade

Continued emissions of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution have led to about 1.2 °C of global warming. While this change is seemingly small, current temperatures are unprecedented in at least the past 12,000 years and affecting living conditions in many parts of the world. If left unchecked, climate change will have profound impacts on ecosystems, health, infrastructure and the economy.

Many countries have started to respond, putting net-zero targets and strategies in place to end their contribution to global warming. Such a transition can pose significant risk and would require substantial investment in every sector of the economy. New technologies and jobs would be needed to reduce energy use, eliminate emissions and restore land. This would present unique challenges and opportunities, particularly in regions that have urgent development needs today.

While the exact outcome is uncertain, it is foreseeable that some combination of these trends will occur. The next decade is set to be a critical period of change.

The NGFS Climate Scenarios explore a range of plausible outcomes

The NGFS partnered with an expert group of climate scientists and economists to design a set of hypothetical scenarios, now available in the expanded 2022 version. They provide a common and up-to-date reference point for understanding how climate change (physical risk) and climate policy and technology trends (transition risk) could evolve in different futures. Each scenario was chosen to show a range of higher and lower risk outcomes.

Orderly scenarios assume climate policies are introduced early and become gradually more stringent. Both physical and transition risks are relatively subdued.

Disorderly scenarios explore higher transition risk due to policies being delayed or divergent across countries and sectors. Carbon prices are typically higher for a given temperature outcome.

Hot house world scenarios assume that some climate policies are implemented in some jurisdictions, but global efforts are insufficient to halt significant global warming. Critical temperature thresholds are exceeded, leading to severe physical risks and irreversible impacts like sea-level rise.

Too little, too late scenarios reflect delays and international divergences in climate policy ambition that imply elevated transition risks in some countries and high physical risks in all countries due to the overall ineffectiveness of the transition.

Physical risks High Low Transition risks High Low Disorderly Disorderly Orderly Orderly Too little, too late Too little, too late Hot house world Hot house world Net Zero 2050 Net Zero 2050 Low Demand Low Demand Delayed Transition Delayed Transition Below 2°C Below 2°C NDCs NDCs Fragmented World Fragmented World Current Policies Current Policies

Climate scenarios have a number of useful applications

Climate scenarios were originally designed to provide policymakers with advice on the risks from climate change and identify possible solutions. They form a key part of scientific assessments such as those conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since 2020, they have been adapted by the NGFS to help central banks and supervisors explore the possible impacts on the economy and the financial system. They are regularly made available as a public good and have a number of useful applications:

  • Scenario analysis and disclosure Granular data on transition pathways, climate impacts and macro-financial indicators can enhance strategic thinking and form a key part of climate-related financial disclosures.
  • Strategy and policy alignment While many actors in the private and public sectors are revising their strategies and policies to align with particular goals, the NGFS scenarios highlight some key themes that can be used to help guide decision-making and set more granular targets.
  • Further academic research The NGFS scenarios can be used as a starting point for researchers and technical specialists who wish to extend them to include higher granularity and other channels and/or feedback effects.

What is new in the 2023 version (Phase IV) of the NGFS scenarios?

The NGFS scenarios have been brought up-to-date with latest economic and climate data, model versions and policy commitments, reflecting new country-level commitments to reach net-zero emissions made until March 2023. The new scenarios also reflect the latest trends in renewable energy technologies (e.g. solar and wind), key mitigation technologies and the energy-market implications of the war in Ukraine.

Two scenarios have been added. Firstly, the Low Demand scenario, which is a new, ambitious Orderly scenario mapping out an avenue for reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5C. In this scenario, this is achieved by means of strong demand reductions and other behavior changes on top of stringent shadow carbon prices. Secondly, the Fragmented World scenario, which is a new Too-little-too-late scenario that entails climate policy delays and divergences reflecting a pessimistic future against the backdrop of the current geopolitical situation.

Additional changes derive from the improved modelling of physical risks. The NGFS scenarios provide a more detailed modelling of the way that acute physical risks could materialize over the course of the scenarios and are now available for more hazards (heatwaves and droughts, in addition to river floods and tropical cyclones), and at the country-level (instead of globally).

Accessibility to the data and transparency of reports are enhanced thanks to the addition of a new open source tool, EnTry, which relies on all the functionalities of the Pyam package while not needing any local installation. By offering easily amendable and extendable templates, this will make the data easily manageable by all users and data or calculations behind every single NGFS chart transparent. This is in addition to already existing access via the IIASA portal and the Climate Impact Explorer.

The NGFS has provided a comprehensive set of data and resources

The NGFS Climate Scenarios bring together a global, harmonised set of transition pathways, physical climate change impacts and economic indicators. The strength of the NGFS suite of models is in their global coverage and integrated assessment of risks. While significant research advances have been made recently, care should be taken in using the results, particularly at the most granular levels. Where possible, multiple models have been used for each scenario and warming level to represent uncertainty.

Developing short-term scenarios

Beyond long-term challenges and trade-offs due to climate change and mitigation policies, policy makers, regulators and financial institutions are interested in analyzing their short-term impact on the real economy, individual financial institutions, and the broader financial system.

By covering a time horizon of three to five years, short-term scenarios can overcome limitations in macroeconomic and financial risk analysis stemming from the focus on long-term climate-economy relationships as captured in the current NGFS climate scenarios. Moreover, they can incorporate macro-financial shocks on top of climate shocks and zoom into sudden impacts and amplification mechanisms in the short- to medium-term.

The NGFS has published a conceptual note on short-term climate scenarios, to inform the public on the conceptual framework reflecting the NGFS’s thinking on short-term scenarios in September 2023, ahead of their analytical implementation in 2024.

Transition Pathways Integrated Assessment Models
Chronic Climate Impact Earth System Models and Climate Impact Models
Acute Climate Impact Natural Catastrophe Models
Macro-financial impacts Global Macroeconomic Models
Transition risks Physical risks

The NGFS Climate Scenarios are available from two locations:

Image of screenshots of the presentation

More information, including on what is new in the 2023 edition, can be found in the following documents:

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Explore scenarios

Learn about climate scenarios, the NGFS scenario narratives and explore the key data behind them.

Use scenarios

Learn how to use the NGFS scenarios to suit your needs and explore key transition, physical and macro-economic risk metrics derived from these scenarios.

Data and resources

Access the NGFS scenario data through the Scenario and Climate Impact explorers. Find other relevant resources to learn more about the scenarios and how to use them.