Scenarios and pathways
We are an experienced team of interdisciplinary experts working on scenarios and pathways to plan how global temperature targets translate into energy policy and carbon pathways at global, national and local scales. We work together with energy sector experts, policy-makers, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholders to inform both the qualitative storylines and quantitative pathways for the low-carbon scenarios.
Our specialisms include developing low-carbon budgets and pathways consistent with the latest science and on the basis of equity, generating scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in collaboration with stakeholders, evaluating the scenarios and tailoring them to appropriate contexts.
We apply these specialisms to individual economic sectors (including energy, aviation, shipping, road transport and food production); nations and economies (including the UK, Russia and Sweden); municipalities and regions (including Greater Manchester and Wales); and stand-alone companies and organisations (for example, small- and medium-sized enterprises in the services sector).
Our team uses innovative participatory methods to create plausible scenarios, with a range of inputs from stakeholders. We bring insights from engineering, physical sciences and social sciences to generate pathways towards ambitious low-carbon futures.
We have been working with scenarios for nearly two decades and have accumulated extensive experience in this area, delivering projects funded by a wide range of bodies including: EPSRC, NERC, North West Development Agency, UKERC, BEIS (DECC), ETI, DEFRA, Tesco, and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Previous and live projects cover a wide range of topics, including:
- Water-energy-food scenarios - The Stepping Up scenarios provide three qualitative descriptions of how changes in climate, society and technology are borne out in systems of energy, water and food provision, and the implications for the water-energy-food nexus. The scenarios were developed based on existing single-sector scenario studies and an extensive programme of stakeholder engagement. They were used as a basis for a workshop to explore with stakeholders the implications of future changes for innovation in the water-energy-food nexus, particularly with regards to the future governance and participation in systems of provision, and potential sustainability considerations emerging within these assemblages.
- Scenarios and pathways for sectors - Projects funded by the EPSRC, UKERC and BEIS have generated low-carbon scenarios for the difficult-to-decarbonise sectors, including aviation, shipping and road transport. For example, the shipping consortia have provided some of the first tools for scenario analysis and exploration of how external drivers may influence associated mid- to long-term trends. The UKERC-funded RACER project explores rapid acceleration of car emission reductions. A project funded by BEIS brings together the strands of research on the difficult sectors to evaluate their contribution to decarbonising for the 1.5°C climate goal set out in the Paris Agreement.
- Scenarios and pathways for countries - Our work on national low-carbon energy systems includes influential research on ‘decarbonising the UK (DUK) energy for a climate-conscious future’ and work on 2°C-constrained carbon budgets and scenarios for high-emitting countries such as Russia. One of our major, impactful contributions is in moving UK climate change and energy policy from long-term targets to science-based cumulative emission budgets.
- Global scenarios and pathways - At a global level, our team regularly develop scenarios to update policy-makers and other stakeholders on the climate change challenge in light of the most recent emission trends and energy-system challenges. We have used principles of equity and plausible assumptions on technology, to argue that industrialised nations need to bear the brunt of immediate and large-scale decarbonisation.