Our scenarios team has been developing possible visions of the future since the 1970s, helping generations of leaders plan and make better decisions. By identifying and interpreting emerging patterns in the present, they deepen our understanding of how the world might appear decades ahead.

Over time, Shell Scenarios have gained a global following among governments, academia and business.

Explore and download our earlier scenarios

A clearer view

Scenarios help decision-makers better understand and deal with uncertainty, such as how political change in one region might impact global society. They also have the potential to improve awareness around issues that could become increasingly important, such as increased urbanisation, greater connectivity or loss of trust in institutions.

By exploring plausible outcomes scenarios challenge conventional wisdom. Organisations using scenarios find it easier to recognise impending disruptions in their own operating environment, such as political changes, demographic shifts or economic recessions. They also increase their resilience to sudden changes caused by unexpected crises like natural disasters or armed conflicts.

In an industry often defined by uncertainty and volatility, Shell is stronger thanks to the forward-planning capacity that scenarios bring.

New lenses on the future

Our latest assessment of the future is called New Lens Scenarios.

In it we explore two possible ways the 21st century could unfold, with dramatically different implications for society and the world’s energy system.

Called Mountains and Oceans, the two scenarios analyse current trends and trace two plausible routes to the future, exploring the implications for global economic development, the energy system and greenhouse gas emissions.

They also raise surprising questions. For instance, could photovoltaic solar power become the world’s largest energy source by the 2070s? Might global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions be near zero by 2100, thanks partly to technology that removes CO2 from the atmosphere?

Most of us will live in cities

By 2050, almost three-quarters of the world’s population will live in cities. This is similar to adding a new city the size of Singapore every month. Such rapid growth presents economic opportunities, but it will also place enormous strain on the systems and resources that are essential for our shared wellbeing and prosperity.

How cities develop in coming decades will determine how efficiently the world uses its vital resources – particularly energy, food and water – and directly impact the quality of life for billions of future urban citizens.

In New Lenses on Future Cities - the first of a series of supplements for our New Lens Scenarios - we look at how cities will evolve this century, and the challenges they will face to be liveable, sustainable and competitive.

Which city best suits your lifestyle? Visit Future Cities

Meet the Shell Scenarios team

Jeremy Bentham

Shell Vice President Global Business Environment

Jeremy has been responsible for Shell’s Global Business Environment team since 2006. His team is best known for developing forward-looking scenarios to support the company’s strategic thinking and direction-setting.

He joined Shell in 1980 following post-graduate experience at the California Institute of Technology. He had read Physics at Oxford University, UK, and holds a Master’s degree in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

His previous roles at Shell involved research and technology, manufacturing economics, industry analysis and commercial information technology. He has also coordinated commercial and production activities at a number of refineries.

Suman Bery

Shell Chief Economist

Suman became Shell’s Chief Economist in February 2012. In this role, he advises Shell’s senior management and executive committee on global economic developments.

An Indian national, Suman read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford and also holds a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

He joined the World Bank in Washington D.C. through its Young Professionals programme and worked in a variety of roles connected with country policy with a particular focus on South America. From 1992-1994, on leave from the World Bank, Suman was Special Consultant to the Reserve Bank of India, Bombay.

He left the World Bank in 2001 to take charge as Director-General (Chief Executive) of one of India’s leading policy research institutions, the National Council of Applied Economic Research, a position  he held till 2011. In 2009 he was appointed by the Indian government as a part-time member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council as well as of its Statistical Commission.

Cho-Oon Khong

Chief Political Analyst, Shell Strategy and Scenarios Team

Cho advises on political trends and political risk, and leads the external environment assessments for Shell’s country reviews.

He joined the Shell scenarios team in 1994, has led a wide range of country scenario projects over the years, and was actively involved in developing the 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2005 sets of Shell Global Scenarios and the 2008 Energy Scenarios.

Cho has also worked on a range of scenario projects with international organisations, governments, universities, research institutions and business companies in Asia, Europe, the US and Africa. He is a member of the advisory panel, Evian Group, IMD, Lausanne, and of the UK government’s Asia Task Force.

James Schofield

Projects Manager, Shell Strategy and Scenarios Team

James joined the team in July 2013 and is responsible for leading a range of projects including scenario planning with governments and the production of scenario publications.

James brings a particular focus on non-technical risk issues and has initiated research into trust-building in complex social environments and opportunities for cross-sector collaboration in fragile states.

A former BBC business journalist and UN advisor, James joined Shell in 2006 as speech writer and external affairs advisor.

Wim Thomas

Wim is Shell’s Chief Energy Advisor and also leads the Energy Analysis Team in Shell’s Global Scenario Group. His team is responsible for worldwide energy analysis and global energy scenarios. He advises Shell companies on a wide range of energy issues, including global supply and demand, regulations, energy policy, pricing and industry structure.

He has been with Shell for over 30 years. He previously held positions in drilling operations, subsurface reservoir management, and commercial and regulatory affairs in gas.

Wim is Chairman of World Petroleum Council UK National Committee, a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Energy Economics Japan, and a former chairman of the British Institute of Energy Economics in 2005. He holds a postgraduate degree in Maritime Technology, Delft University, the Netherlands.

Peer reviewed journals

Ecofys and Shell have been collaborating for five years to establish realistic estimates of the world’s renewable fuel and electricity resource at country level. The results of this work, originally created to support Shell’s future energy scenarios, have been published in the peer reviewed journals "Biomass and Bioenergy" and “Global Environmental Change”.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Spring landscape

The day the earth’s CO2 stands still

Imagine a world where carbon dioxide no longer accumulates in the atmosphere. The head of the Shell Scenarios team, Jeremy Bentham, shows how society can get from there to here.

Download Jeremy’s essay
A father lifts up his baby in the Shell energy lab

Earlier scenarios

Shell Scenarios since the 1970s have helped us understand how the world and its energy system could evolve in decades to come.

Explore earlier Shell Scenarios

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