Pathways to 2050

Alternative Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy

Published in: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (May 2019)

Posted on RAND.org on June 04, 2019

by Robert J. Lempert, Benjamin Lee Preston, Jae Edmonds, Leon Clarke, Tom Wild, Matthew Binsted, Elliot Diringer, Brad Townsend

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Climate change is among the most profound challenges of all time, confronting individuals, businesses, and governments across the globe. Meeting this challenge requires a sweeping, sustained effort over the coming decades. To successfully orient the global economy toward the goal of climate protection will require strong leadership from two indispensable forces: the United States, the world's leading economy, and the private sector — foremost for its power to innovate.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is working to help illuminate and confront this looming long-term challenge through Climate Innovation 2050. This multi-year initiative brings together leading companies across key sectors to develop viable pathways for decarbonizing the U.S. economy. As an initial step, C2ES led a group of companies in a collaborative exercise examining potential scenarios for achieving mid-century decarbonization goals. This scenario exercise aimed to build a common understanding — benefitting both these firms and broader societal efforts — of the potential for alternative pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States and to highlight important commonalities and differences among such paths. This report presents the resulting scenarios and the insights drawn from them.

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