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How to use Pathzero Navigator's Analysis: Understanding estimated emissions paths

The estimated emissions paths show two climate scenarios over time. In a future update, we will enable bespoke reduction plans to be visually represented.

The amount of greenhouse gas emissions that a sector can produce, while remaining in line with an expected temperature outcome is known as a ‘carbon budget’.  
Climate scenarios are known as Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) and show possible future global carbon budget scenarios, developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  

SSPs are constructed using carbon budgets, with consideration for socio-economic factors such as:  

  • population trends 
  • technological developments 
  • economic growth/decline  
  • consumer trends 

The SSPs show the expected emissions that each global sector could produce (or carbon budget) as a result of these factors. Each carbon budget could play out in contrasting ways across sectors given the factors they rely on. As such, they should be used as an indicator of the level of decarbonisation effort required for a business or group of assets to remain in line with these SSPs, rather than a source of truth. 

Importantly, the SSPs are grouped into only a small number of sectors, which are defined at a global level. Pathzero Navigator uses Exiobase as the chosen EEIO database; Exiobase comprises 163 sectors across 44 countries and 5 “rest of the world” regions, and so is much more granular. The Exiobase sectors have been mapped to the SSP sectors, which necessarily involved grouping the Exiobase sectors into SSP sectors. 

Why do the SSPs not reach zero in line with ‘net zero’ in 2050? 

In order to reach global net zero emissions in 2050, a large amount of decarbonisation needs to occur in every sector.  

The IPCC scenarios do not assume that every sector will individually reach the point of zero emissions in 2050. Many sectors will still be net positive emitters.  

However, overall, this is netted to zero as some sectors such as energy may become net negative. In addition, a ‘net zero’ scenario also assumes carbon removal of any remaining emissions. 

As such, the SSPs of many sectors reduce towards 2050, but do not actually reach zero by 2050. Many of the sectors do reach zero emissions, and below, between 2050 and 2100. 

More information about SSPs available on Pathzero Navigator 

1. SSP1-1.9 – representing a global temperature outcome of 1.6℃ above pre-industrial levels in 2050

The SSP1 achieves the best global temperature outcome. In the SSP1, global consumption is oriented toward low material growth and lower resource and energy intensity.  

The SSP1 assumes that the world shifts gradually, but pervasively, toward a more sustainable path.  

Educational and health investments accelerate the demographic transition, and there is an emphasis on economic growth that focuses on human wellbeing. Driven by an increasing commitment to achieving development goals, inequality is reduced both across and within countries.  

2. SSP2-4.5 – representing a global temperature outcome of 2℃ above pre-industrial levels in 2050

In the SSP2, the world follows a path in which social, economic, and technological trends do not shift markedly from historical patterns.  

Development and income growth proceeds unevenly, with some countries making relatively good progress while others fall short of expectations. 

Environmental systems experience degradation, but the overall intensity of resource and energy use declines. 

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