Climate scenarios enable us to
- explore possible futures and examine their assumptions
- understand the courses of action that lead to these futures
- assess potential risks and opportunities
Six different scenarios to assess transition and physical risks
To cover a broad range of physical and transition risks, the NGFS has designed 6 scenarios with the help of a group of renowned academic research institutions. These scenarios share similar socio-economic assumptions. They assume a continuation of current economic and population trends, though accounting for a COVID shock.
Net Zero 2050
Net Zero 2050 is an ambitious scenario that limits global warming to 1.5 °C through stringent climate policies and innovation, reaching net zero CO₂ emissions around 2050. Some jurisdictions such as the US, EU and Japan reach net zero for all greenhouse gases by this point.
Below 2 °C
Below 2 °C gradually increases the stringency of climate policies, giving a 67 % chance of limiting global warming to below 2 °C.
Divergent Net Zero
Divergent Net Zero reaches net-zero by 2050 but with higher costs due to divergent policies introduced across sectors and a quicker phase out of fossil fuels.
Delayed Transition assumes global annual emissions do not decrease until 2030. Strong policies are then needed to limit warming to below 2 °C. Negative emissions are limited.
Nationally Determined Contributions
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) includes all pledged policies even if not yet implemented.
Current Policies assumes that only currently implemented policies are preserved, leading to high physical risks.
Portraits of two opposite scenarios
Net Zero 2050
Reaching net-zero global CO₂ emissions by 2050 will require an ambitious transition across all sectors of the economy. Scenarios tend to emphasise the importance of decarbonising the electricity supply, increasing electricity use, increasing energy efficiency, and developing new technologies to tackle hard-to-abate emissions. Transition risks to the economy could result from higher emissions costs and changes in business and consumer preferences. Physical risks would be minimised.
While many countries have started to introduce climate policies, they are not yet sufficient to achieve official commitments and targets. If no further measures are introduced, 3 °C or more of warming could occur by 2100. This would likely result in deteriorating living conditions in many parts of the world and lead to some irreversible impacts like sea-level rise. Physical risks to the economy could result from disruption to ecosystems, health, infrastructure and supply chains.
Reaching net zero by 2050
Decarbonising the power sector is a central pillar of the transition to a net-zero carbon economy. It requires switching to alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind or nuclear, as well as some targeted deployment of carbon, capture and storage (CCS) for new and existing power plants. Complementary investment will also be needed in new grid management and storage solutions to ensure continued reliability. Fossil-fired power plants risk losing revenues and becoming stranded.
Physical risks in a 3°C world
Rising mean temperatures
Continued emissions of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution have led to about 1.2 °C of global warming. Current temperatures are higher than at any time in the last 12,000 years. If no further climate policies are implemented both average and extreme temperature changes are expected throughout the 21st century. Under the NGFS Current Policies Scenario, global warming of 1.5 °C could be reached in the 2030s, 2 °C around 2050 and 3 °C in the 2090s. Such global warming is projected to lead to a non-linear increase in severe and irreversible climate impacts.
Explore the transition data
To account for uncertainty, the 6 NGFS scenarios have been generated by 3 different integrated assessment models, namely GCAM, MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM and REMIND-MAgPIE. Use the interactive tool below to visualise how key transition variables differ across these models and scenarios. Note that links are provided to the NGFS IIASA Scenario Explorer to look at further details.
Electricity generation in EJ per year
Select scenarios to compare values across models and scenarios.
Explore the physical risk data
The Climate Impact Explorer provides first-hand access to projections of physical climate risks at the national and subnational level. Scenario and warming level dependent impacts are provided for chronic and acute climate changes, as well as direct damages for selected sectors.