An electrified road to climate goals

Renewable energy costs have fallen sharply over the past decade. New analysis explores how an extension of these trends, plus complementary technological innovation and market-based climate policy, could lead to a future electricity-dominated energy system.

It is difficult to overestimate the immense challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) notes that limiting warming to 1.5°C requires virtual elimination of CO2 by 2050 as well as significant reductions in methane and other GHG emissions1. These deep decarbonization pathways involve major changes at all levels and in all sectors of the economy. Key strategies include improving energy efficiency, decarbonizing electricity, electrifying end-use sectors and switching to alternative low-carbon fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions CO2 emissions from agriculture and other sectors, and CO removal2 from the atmosphere via natural sinks or capture and storage in geological reservoirs1. Due to these far-reaching impacts, Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), which represent the interconnections between all energy sectors as well as the Earth system, are often used to understand the transition to a decarbonized world.

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