The wider benefits of the 2°C Scenario


The wider benefits of the 2°C Scenario

Energy security, environmental protection and economic growth are allies


The deployment of a low-carbon energy system, as laid out in the ETP 2012’s 2°C Scenario (2DS), delivers wide benefits by enhancing energy security, environmental protection and economic growth. The world today is heavily dependent on finite fossil fuels, leading not only to significant emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide (CO2), but also posing broader environmental, economic, energy security and geopolitical challenges. The transition to a low-carbon economy as envisaged in the 2DS gives the world an 80% chance of keeping average global temperature rise below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

  • A low-carbon energy system increases energy security, particularly for energy importing countries, through reduced energy dependence and greater diversity of energy sources and technologies.
    • In the 2DS, fossil fuel use, currently 85% of global primary energy needs, drops by some 20% in 2050 compared to 2009 levels, representing 60% lower use of fossil-based fuels in 2050 compared to the 6°C scenario.
    • In the OECD, fossil-fuel use in electricity generation and transport sectors will decrease by close to 50%.
  • The pathway to the 2DS is not just environmentally necessary but economically sound.
    • Every additional dollar invested in clean energy can generate 3 dollars in return by 2050.
    •  Achieving the 2DS would require an additional USD 36 trillion between 2010 and 2050 (USD 130 per person every year) which represents less than 1% of cumulative GDP over this period.
    • The investment saves USD 103 trillion to USD 150 trillion in spending on fossil fuels depending on whether or not we include the drop in fuel prices caused by lower energy demand in the 2DS.
    • The net benefit of moving to low-carbon energy technologies is estimated at USD 61 trillion undiscounted and USD 5 trillion using a 10% discount rate.
    • In addition, low-carbon technologies often also reduce local air pollution, providing other environmental benefits and improve quality of life.
      • In power generation, nuclear and many renewable energy technologies have no or low emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide – both of which reduce air quality, cause acidic deposition and adversely affect human health.
      • In the transport sector, the use of electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles results in a reduction of noise and local environmental pollution, such as nitrogen oxide emissions, compared with internal combustion engine-powered vehicles. Gains in air quality resulting from biofuel production and combustion vary, depending on the feedstock, harvesting and processing methods, and combustion control technology applied.
      • The 2DS opens the way to meet environmental goals after 2050. By 2075, CO2 emissions must reach zero as part of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2° scenario. Extending the ETP’s 2DS through 2075 using the technology set deployed through 2050 does not quite achieve zero emissions; additional technology development and breakthroughs will increase the likelihood of reaching this important very-long-term target.


Moreover, “systems thinking” is key to unlocking synergies between energy, transportation, water, waste and communication infrastructure.

Download PDF version: Factsheet ETP 2012 - Wider Benefits of 2DS