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How to find both plausible and divergent scenarios

Sonia Yeh, Chalmers, leader for Work Package Definingtransformative pathways

Sonia Yeh, Chalmers, leader for Work Package Definingtransformative pathways

Author: Sonia Yeh, leader for Work Package Definingtransformative pathways

Our first task has been to start defining a set of scenarios that covers plausible, yet divergent narratives and assumptions on how the future may evolve. That is, looking at external factors influencing the Swedish energy pathways towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

These factors include GDP in other regions, climate ambitions of individual countries, EU climate policies and availability and costs of fossil resources as well as for renewable energy. These external drivers will be critical for the Swedish net zero-emission pathways since they affect the benefits, costs and risks for Sweden to be a front runner in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions towards net zero by 2045.

Instrumental for this work is a new scenario framework called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, SSP’s, established by the climate change research community to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts. This framework provides well-established, internationally recognized and comparable narratives which will also guide other quantitative scenarios and qualitative narrative studies within Mistra Carbon Exit.

Specially, the SSP’s will be used to develop narratives and quantitative assessments that include both the technology development within the supply chain (WP2) as well as the development towards the UN sustainable development goals (WP5).

Though some national level SSP data such as population, GDP and urbanization data is publicly available, most of the more detailed data is not. We thus collaborate with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at the University of Maryland, US to get the most updated and regionalized data about for example carbon prices, technology development rate, fossil fuel use and constraints and land use regarding biofuel availability.

Our plan is to select two or three SSP scenarios that will aim to cover a best case - as in a sustainable future, a worst case – as in regional rivalry or fossil development and a middle-of-the-road case. To the extent possible we will work with the other work packages and the case studies in Mistra Carbon Exit to use consistent storylines.