How To Use Climate Trajectory Modeling To Achieve Net Zero

June 15, 2022

Rae Oliver

The state of the planet and our global climate are constantly changing in response to both natural and human phenomena. Over the past two decades, the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 emissions from human activity has increased drastically to 48% above pre-industrial levels. This is primarily due to increasing carbon emissions from economic and industrial activities and growing carbon emissions from developing countries and their economies.

Economies and businesses have a crucial role to play in the reduction of global emissions in line with the latest scientific benchmarks. Organizations across key sectors need to create strategies to help them achieve net-zero emissions. A powerful instrument for doing this is climate trajectory modeling.

Read on as we explore how organizations can use climate trajectory modeling and scenario analysis to achieve their net-zero goals.

Climate Trajectory Modeling Explained

Climate trajectory modeling is an approach that allows organizations and sectors to quantify their net-zero goals in line with the expectations of their target markets. It uses climate scenario analysis to look toward the future and make calculated data-backed decisions.

Scenario analysis is a tool that enhances an organization’s critical and strategic thinking while challenging conventional stances on the future. By using quantitative data to illustrate possible pathways and outcomes, organizations can delve into the range of climate change implications relevant to their operations.

Scientists have created potential scenarios for the future of human activity representing plausible future emissions pathways. In the earliest IPCC assessments, SRES (Special Report on Emissions Scenarios) were some of the most widely used to form the foundation of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. SRES describes ‘what if’ situations if a given amount of carbon dioxide equivalent was emitted.

For the Fifth Assessment Report, an all-new range of scenarios was developed, called Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). RCPs relate to concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and are essentially cumulative emissions budgets. These consistent and time-dependent projections are used to assess the costs associated with human development and societal choices. The aim of RCPs is to facilitate informed policy-making within the context of climate change and socioeconomic development.

Why is Climate Trajectory Modeling Important?

By modeling possible future climate scenarios, companies can understand the potential business implications of climate-related risks and opportunities. This type of modeling makes it easier to understand organizations’ paths in adhering to the scenarios set out by the Paris Agreement and the Science-Based Targets Initiative’s (SBTi) Temperature Scoring Method.

In a world of uncertainty, scenario analysis enables organizations to explore the possible outcomes if they were to change their actions. Climate models help organizations and individuals work through complex problems and understand equally complicated systems. All while testing theories and solutions to reduce carbon emissions and remain aligned with key climate goals.

There are a variety of climate scenarios that organizations can use, including:

Baseline Scenarios

Also referred to as “business as usual scenarios”, this climate scenario looks at the impact of companies continuing with their current actions. It compares a world where emissions have been dramatically reduced vs. a world where companies continue with their state of affairs. With these forecast baselines, companies can better understand the social, economic, and environmental costs of not taking action.

Mitigation Scenarios

This scenario shows the potential positive of being different from the status quo. These low-carbon scenarios enable organizations to explore emission reduction opportunities. By comparing different mitigation options, companies can understand the prospective financial and environmental impact of investing in long-term solutions. Modeling a future with mitigation actions is a critical part of ensuring that actions happen.

Creating Net Zero Projections

Using evolving scenarios such as RCP and SRES as input to create net-zero projections, global climate models produce trajectories of what future climate change will bring. The main normative scenario is the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE) developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA). This scenario sets out a pathway for the global energy sector to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. In this scenario, temperatures peak at just over 1.5°C in 2050 and decline to roughly 1.4°C by 2100.

The NZE trajectory shows how limiting global warming to 1.5°C is achievable, but requires immediate, progressive action. This scenario also highlights how limiting global warming to 1.5°C would result in numerous social and economic benefits.

The Importance of Accurate Emissions Data

Obtaining accurate emissions data is key to creating viable climate trajectory models that allow businesses to reduce their emissions and meet net-zero targets. Leading decarbonization platforms like SINAI offer enterprise software to measure, analyze, price, and reduce emissions and create up-to-date reports. This enables the creation of accurate and actionable climate trajectory models that are based on real data rather than estimations.

Accurate emissions data is important, but it’s equally essential to use the data for building scenarios and evaluating company emissions trajectories. This is where software and cutting-edge technology come into play. Our platform assists by helping to estimate and project the effects of carbon and energy reduction initiatives on your firm’s financial position and carbon management efforts. Our tools enable you to incorporate analytical capabilities into your carbon and energy programs.

Achieve Your Net Zero Goals with SINAI

Incorporating climate policy into net-zero projections is vital for reaching key climate targets and keeping global warming below 1.5ºC. Climate trajectory modeling can be used to implement a strategy that supports your organization’s objectives and emission reduction targets.

SINAI offers emission reduction strategies and climate trajectory modeling tools to enable your business to achieve its net-zero goals. Our technologies are structured by the Science Based Targets initiative’s guidelines and principles, which ensures the creation of sustainable and reachable goals.

It’s time to generate data-driven net-zero strategies based on your true emissions profile and long-term emission reduction goals. Get in touch today to learn how our powerful pathway prediction features can help you.

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