The graph plots emissions numbers from 1990, as calculated by the Registry up until 2020, and then projects them forwards to 2050 on the basis of four future production scenarios. You can choose either individual countries or Select All to see the entire global picture. The scenarios range from “Business as Usual” – the emissions that will be created if current trends are continued – to Net Zero by 2050. The difference in emissions between one scenario and another can then clearly be seen. The resulting numbers are purely a thought experiment, and not to be taken as predictive, since they involve a long chain of assumptions. Nevertheless, the visualization offers an “order of magnitude” picture of how various global scenarios could break down into pathways of production at country level.
The root of the scenarios is in estimates of future production put together by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its annual World Energy Outlook, combined with the emissions factors the Global Registry has evolved. There are four of them:
Business as Usual assumes broadly that production of fossil fuels will continue as if there were no further policy or market moves towards an energy transition and a low carbon economy.
Government Pledges factors in the impact of announcements made by governments in response to the international policy consensus around energy transition. It assumes that all such policy announcements made will be carried out.
Sustainable Development Scenario posits more radical action to curb emissions, at the same time as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. It assumes developed economies will reach net zero by 2050 but that other such as China and India reach this stage later.
Net Zero is the most radical path towards the energy transition, assuming the global economy achieves zero net carbon emissions by the year 2050. Since the IEA published its Net Zero report in 2021, it has become a major paradigm for energy planning and investment.
The first two of the IEA scenarios, Business as Usual (“Stated Policies”) and Government Pledges (“Announced Pedges”), assume levels of production for key producer countries, year by year until 2050. Compared to 2020 production, the individual countries listed represented 89% of global production of oil, 85% of gas, and 81% of coal.
Because the Global Registry seeks to provide insight for policy making in as many countries as possible, the basis of the country historic production data series are from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), an arm of the US Department of Energy. The IEA production estimates in each scenario are normalised to 100% for 2020, and then expressed as percentages relative to that figure. These are then factored onto EIA 2020 production.
IEA numbers in the scenario are at five year intervals into the future. These are interpolated on an arithmetic curve to create an annual time series.
For other producer countries, regional totals in the IEA totals for 2020 are allocated to the countries in that region according to their proportion, and then mapped onto EIA production figures. This inevitably introduces margins of uncertainty in the long tail of countries producing small volumes, but has limited material effect on the global view.
The Sustainable Development Scenario contains only regional totals. These are extrapolated onto the country totals established from the first two scenarios, with the assumptions that trends observable in the differences between BAU and Government Pledges would continue further. So, for example, Mexico’s share of production from North America increases between the first two scenarios, even as the regional totals decline in absolute terms. The analysis therefore assumes that Mexico’s share of regional production will increase somewhat under Sustainable Development as well.
Finally, Net Zero suggests only estimates for the global total of production of oil, gas and coal year by year until 2050. To produce country level numbers, the analysis factors the totals from SDS down by a uniform proportion to achieve the same overall total.
All data is licensed under CC-BY-SA. For further information please contact the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels