Could society achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement has sent a signal, but could society do enough to achieve the goals of this landmark climate agreement?
To achieve the Paris Agreement, society would need to completely transform the way it powers transport, heats and cools homes and produces many of the products we use every day. This would be a re-wiring of the global economy in just 50 years and it would happen at different paces in different places.
Shell’s latest energy scenario, Sky, outlines a technologically, industrially, and economically possible route to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, but it’s not without its challenges.
Global emissions would need to peak around 2025 and then decline rapidly, with fossil fuel use declining from over 80% of total primary energy today to less than 25% by 2070. There are numerous technological challenges to overcome, such as a further rapid drop in battery costs, a sharp increase in renewable electricity use and the construction of thousands of facilities for capturing and storing carbon dioxide underground. These innovations would need to be developed and implemented much faster than has historically been the case. Success would also require the widespread use of governmental policy instruments such as carbon taxes.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is whether there is the political will and, underlying this, the societal will to put in place and maintain the necessary policy frameworks.
The Sky scenario joins two previous Shell scenarios, Mountains and Oceans. Both saw rapid decarbonization, but both fell short of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The pathway in Sky is only made possible when maximising both institutional leadership and mechanisms to share common interests between countries.
In the run-up to the Paris Agreement, many institutions rose to the challenge, propelled by leadership from within the United Nations and through personal commitment from many heads of government. But has society stepped-back since 2015? Certainly, several countries have a more nationally focussed agenda. That doesn’t mean an end to the actions necessary to implement the Paris Agreement, but it does challenge the effective cooperation required to ensure global success.
Technology is important, but alone it isn’t the key to the Paris Agreement, rather it will continue to need international cooperation at the highest level.
Read the Sky publication to see how the goals of the Paris Agreement could be met through a combination of technology, government policy and societal actions.
Could society achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement? What do you think? Share your thoughts on social media tagging @Shell and using #ShellScenarios.
This post is part of Shell scenarios ‘could the world achieve Paris’ series.
The Sky scenario illustrates a technically possible, but challenging pathway for society to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Discover the Sky scenario through our latest content series, twelve questions addressing key topics found within Sky.
For over two decades Shell scenario thinking has incorporated the issue of climate change. The Sky scenario joins two previous Shell scenarios, Mountains and Oceans that saw rapid decarbonization but fell short of the goals of the Paris Agreement. To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Sky scenario relies on a complex combination of mutually reinforcing actions by society, markets and governments. It adopts an approach grounded in current economic and policy development mechanisms, but then progressively becomes ‘goal-driven’ to achieve society’s ambition for net-zero emissions by 2070. At Shell, we hope it’s a helpful contribution to one of the world’s toughest challenges. You can explore all three scenarios at www.shell.com/Scenarios