Sustainable Development Scenario

A cleaner and more inclusive energy future

The world is currently not on track to meet the main energy-related components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by 193 countries in 2015. The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) outlines a major transformation of the global energy system, showing how the world can change course to deliver on the three main energy-related SDGs simultaneously. Read more about the other WEO scenarios

A new approach to energy and sustainable development


Based on existing and announced policies – as described in the IEA New Policies Scenario – the world is not on course to achieve the outcomes of the UN SDGs most closely related to energy: to achieve universal access to energy (SDG 7), to reduce the severe health impacts of air pollution (part of SDG 3) and to tackle climate change (SDG 13). The SDS sets out an ambitious but pragmatic vision of how the global energy sector can evolve in order to achieve these critical energy-related SDGs.

The SDS starts with the SDG outcomes and then works back to set out what would be needed to deliver these goals in the most cost-effective way. The benefits in terms of prosperity, health, environment and energy security would be substantial, but achieving these outcomes would require a profound transformation in the way we produce and consume energy. In 2018, the SDS also includes a water dimension, focusing both on the water needs of the energy sector and the energy needs of achieving SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation.

Universal access to modern energy is achieved by 2030, in line with SDG 7

A strong drive towards electrification (on-grid and off-grid) and provision of clean cooking facilities means the number of people without access to modern energy drops to zero by 2030, transforming the lives of hundreds of millions, and reducing the severe health impacts of indoor air pollution, overwhelmingly caused by smoke from cooking.

Proportion of population with access to clean fuels for cooking (left) and electricity (right) in the SDS
	Sub-Saharan Africa	Sub-Saharan Africa (SDS)	Developing Asia	Developing Asia (SDS)	Latin America	Latin America (SDS)	North Africa	North Africa (SDS)	Middle East	Middle East (SDS)
2000	9.670056172		34.33632225		81.23700435		90.60409503		93.56339586	
2001	9.663249584		35.75700244		81.12327601		92.08212278		93.52111621	
2002	10.47496431		36.59669654		81.45123218		93.56966591		93.47784291	
2003	11.62235713		37.48299955		81.655091		95.0683515		93.43757625	
2004	11.43521712		38.74768221		82.16524492		95.95732638		93.40581994	
2005	11.06210455		39.88608356		82.55631568		96.85081652		93.38533974	
2006	11.258122		41.27058355		83.13408281		97.25207211		93.66527515	
2007	11.46079276		41.05498768		83.76314223		97.67510168		93.95641385	
2008	11.79850797		41.56075915		84.52029303		98.09842182		94.24791042	
2009	12.25629538		42.02617359		84.98920381		98.52193951		94.53308799	
2010	13.10455581		42.10473398		85.81529986		98.94585291		94.81042742	
2011	13.27205151		42.29715394		86.3643627		99.04623766		95.0822342	
2012	13.87218379		44.68534113		86.60696524		99.17579436		95.17024813	
2013	14.55681215		47.76181613		87.10322616		99.22741217		95.14903333	
2014	15.12487478		50.2495719		88.14504498		99.27913524		95.15135578	
2015	15.60203917		53.13398283		88.22017697		99.33089293		95.15327644	
2016	15.71013531		54.25842158		88.56635368		99.3826637		95.15486587	
2017	17.3099383	17.3099383	55.30027595	55.30027595	88.77096479	88.77096479	99.43442872	99.43442872	95.15592041	95.15592041
2018		19.46309427		56.95779323		88.95746246		99.46488292		95.23230616
2019		21.65303939		58.56738453		89.1445459		99.49464084		95.30832061
2020		30.64737585		62.69506875		90.22066045		99.54879247		95.80927811
2021		39.21870252		66.74834242		91.276361		99.60119686		96.29579044
2022		47.38688804		70.73121402		92.31272891		99.65196759		96.76763218
2023		55.1716496		74.64794124		93.33085516		99.70123004		97.22444722
2024		62.59202554		78.50252147		94.33175743		99.7490989		97.66605272
2025		69.66589125		82.29887409		95.31640798		99.79567346		98.0930225
2026		76.40967097		86.04104309		96.28575272		99.84103306		98.50649547
2027		82.83933509		89.73269422		97.24064575		99.88525495		98.90776275
2028		88.96996432		93.37763584		98.18194917		99.92840775		99.29789298
2029		94.81605387		96.97935221		99.1104975		99.97055167		99.67777754
2030		100		100		100		100		100
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	Sub-Saharan Africa	Sub-Saharan Africa (SDS)	Developing Asia	Developing Asia (SDS)	Latin America	Latin America (SDS)	North Africa	North Africa (SDS)	Middle East	Middle East (SDS)
2000	22.55778963		66.55843262		86.04573723		90.3		91.1	
2001	23.6420502		67.12033553		87.44656044		91.8993		91.4501	
2002	25.16293324		67.69283525		88.83870323		93.4989		91.8008	
2003	25.82584133		69.77235618		89.20254854		94.4984		84.9461	
2004	26.97273541		71.87270268		89.55802245		95.4978		78.0838	
2005	27.62174469		72.93361914		90.26569346		96.2		80.38	
2006	28.24427113		74.00476149		90.98547957		96.9016		82.6735	
2007	28.9419516		75.07780009		91.70312804		97.6015		84.9537	
2008	29.59587616		76.1690807		92.41882123		98.3007		87.2284	
2009	30.30897217		77.24300991		93.13254644		99.0002		89.5026	
2010	32.20905381		78.5935182		93.60352438		99.4		91.1	
2011	32.67135096		79.96477216		94.8034188		99.4274		91.0209	
2012	31.99000652		80.89866967		95.03315528		99.3609		91.7157	
2013	32.38535667		82.95350044		95.42453728		99.3673		92.2473	
2014	35.21832093		84.61297191		95.42628104		99.2903		92.0659	
2015	41.4117256		87.32408346		95.78312636		99.1186		92.1713	
2016	41.08720448		88.53221752		95.90751553		99.5064		92.2463	
2017	43.33819882	43.33819882	90.98104507	90.98104507	95.98633389	95.98633389	99.5198	99.5198	92.3357	92.3357
2018		45.54874692		92.3497904		96.87774846		99.6416		92.9763
2019		47.68197391		93.70545394		97.65724517		99.7674		93.5068
2020		52.6087971		94.78666883		97.90218264		99.8989		94.1534
2021		57.502772		95.86061177		98.1291314		100		94.7851
2022		62.36368126		96.92983538		98.3530782		100		95.4036
2023		67.19110432		97.79228179		98.56431141		100		96.0109
2024		71.98450339		98.10701638		98.7740461		100		96.6087
2025		76.74294133		98.42218156		98.98224563		100		97.1976
2026		81.46617085		98.7376175		99.18887731		100.02		97.7775
2027		86.15375201		99.053283		99.3939091		100.041		98.3479
2028		90.80617086		99.36894181		99.59767431		100.06		98.9086
2029		95.4216557		99.68456862		99.79959005		100.08		99.4593
2030		100		100		100		100		100
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The world delivers on the Paris Agreement and SDG 13

Energy production and use is the largest source of global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, meaning that the energy sector is crucial for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Under the SDS, energy-related GHG  emissions peak around 2020 and then decline rapidly. By 2040, they are at around half of today’s level and on course toward net-zero emissions by 2070, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

	Coal generation	Gas generation	Cars ICE	Trucks ICE	Steel	Cement	Oil and gas	Buildings	Other
2017	10.53815919	2.964062202	3.083037076	2.412905577	2.002741716	2.694351348	2.636141	3.382354568	9.298426175
2040	1.079973326	2.162583636	1.542272137	2.104880266	1.286958114	1.940658261	0.5396854	2.298238632	8.163977928
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The SDS and the Paris Agreement

The SDS is fully aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”.

To achieve the temperature goal, the Paris Agreement calls for emissions to peak as soon as possible and reduce rapidly thereafter, leading to a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks (i.e. net-zero emissions) in the second half of this century. These conditions are met in the SDS: global CO2 emissions peak around 2020 and then decline steeply to 2040, on course towards net-zero emissions in the latter half of the century.

From now until 2040 (the period covered by the model), the emissions trajectory of the SDS is at the lower end of other decarbonisation scenarios projecting a median temperature rise in 2100 of around 1.7 °C to 1.8 °C. It is also within the envelope of scenarios projecting a temperature rise below 1.5 °C, as assessed by the recent IPCC Special Report on 1.5 C.

Compare SDS to scenarios with a  temperature rise in 2100

Note: Scenarios drawn from the Scenario Explorer released alongside the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 C of global warming. See https://data.ene.iiasa.ac.at/iamc-1.5c-explorer/

The ultimate long-term temperature outcome will depend on the trajectory of emissions after 2040 – including when global CO2emissions reach net zero – as well as levels of emissions of other types of greenhouse gases. A continuation of the SDS pre-2040 emissions reduction rate would lead to global energy-sector CO2 emissions falling to net-zero by 2070. Maintaining or accelerating the rate of reduction of energy- and process-related emissions up to and beyond 2040 is likely to require robust technological innovation. In the SDS, the power sector decarbonises rapidly before 2040, highlighting the importance of other sectors, including those where emissions reductions are more challenging, such as industry and freight transport. Other important sectors for innovation include carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and so-called “negative emissions” technologies that allow CO2 to be withdrawn from the atmosphere at scale in the second-half of the century.. Further, the science around emissions trajectories and climate implications is still evolving, and IEA scenarios will continue to be updated in light of the latest science.

The Paris Agreement is also clear that climate change mitigation objectives should be fulfilled in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. The Sustainable Development Scenario explicitly supports these broader development efforts (in contrast to most other decarbonisation scenarios), in particular through its energy access and cleaner air dimensions.

Achieving three objectives in parallel

There is no trade-off between achieving climate objectives and delivering on energy access and air pollution goals.

Good policy design can exploit synergies between the three parallel objectives of the SDS. Achieving universal access to modern energy only leads to a small increase in CO2 emissions (0.1%), the climate effect of which is more than offset by lower methane emissions due to a reduction in use of traditional biomass cookstoves.

Further, the transition to a low-carbon economy leads to a more efficient energy system that relies less on fuel combustion; this plays a major role in improving air quality, reducing both outdoor and household air pollution.

In countries where reducing health impacts of air pollution is an urgent issue, low-carbon measures that reduce the overall quantity of fossil fuels being used – including energy efficiency measures on the demand side, and a shift to renewables on the supply side – are likely to be an important part of an action plan to tackle those health-related impacts.  Measures taken primarily for low-carbon objectives, including renewables and efficiency, account for more than half of all reductions of NOx emissions and about 40% of SO2 emissions, by 2040 in the SDS (relative to the NPS). The remaining reductions are mostly driven by pollution-specific measures, including policies that mandate the installation of advanced pollution control technologies and mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement.  For PM2.5 emissions, energy access policies are an important driver of reductions, because indoor cooking smoke is currently the largest source of PM2.5 emissions globally.

Drivers of pollutant emissions reductions in the SDS relative to the NPS
Source: IEA analysis; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Investment

The SDS presents an energy transition where renewables and energy efficiency lead the charge in reducing CO2 emissions as well as reducing pollutants that cause poor air quality.  Renewables become the dominant force in power generation, providing over 65% of global electricity generation by 2040. Wind and solar PV, in particular, soon become the cheapest sources of electricity in many countries and provide nearly 40% of all electricity in 2040. Emissions reduction in transport, industry and buildings are achieved largely through greatly enhanced energy efficiency and increasing levels of electrification of end-uses. Overall, achieving the vision of the SDS would require an increase of only around 13% in energy investment globally, relative to NPS.


Learn more about the World Energy Outlook findings Read about the other WEO scenarios