Chapter 3: Planning for Decarbonization

[Planning for Decarbonization] Decarbonization Scenario Planning

September 7, 2023
September 8, 2023
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Decarbonization Scenario Planning

Lesson Overview

Scenario planning enables organizations to assess the risks, benefits, and challenges of different decarbonization pathways, providing a holistic view of future possibilities and helping them make informed business decisions in the face of climate change uncertainties.

Now that you’ve taken stock of your GHG Inventory, selected your Baseline year, and set SBTs, you’ll need to consider the risks, benefits, and challenges of various outcomes to make better-informed business decisions. This is where Scenario Planning comes into play, preparing organizations to be flexible and adaptable to the unpredictable nature of climate change.

scenario planning decarbonization

Each scenario represents a possible future decarbonization pathway and provides a holistic view of future possibilities. A Scenario is a value-optimized decarbonization plan specific to an industry or business. 

Organizations use scenario planning to accomplish two main objectives:

  • To visualize Decarbonization Pathways across their business units or divisions
  • To provide general recommendations on decarbonization actions related to an industry or location

These goals are important for any organization to track. However, relying on internal sustainability teams and/or consultants to drive these results is often costly and time-consuming. 

Quadial Inc. uses Persefoni’s Net Zero Navigator (NZN) as a solution to tailor their decarbonization scenario planning toward its unique business operations.

Armed with these scenarios, organizations can leverage computer simulations to see the impacts of Scenarios and make more informed business decisions. It allows us to consider the potential risks and opportunities of different pathways towards a low-carbon future.

From the Scenarios created within NZN, Quadial Inc can visualize the impact of certain decarbonization actions on reduction targets.

Decarbonization scenario planning answers questions such as, what will happen if we invest more in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure? How will our economy be affected if we transition from fossil fuels? What are the costs and benefits of different energy sources?

Different components of scenario planning include: 

  • Brainstorming different scenarios based on assumptions, variables, and policy frameworks (such as technology development, energy demand, renewable energy deployment, policy support, economic factors, and societal preferences.)
  • Considering different emission trajectories by projecting incremental emission reductions all the way to net zero emissions. This illustrates how GHG emissions evolve over time in each scenario, capturing the magnitude and pace of emission reductions.
  • Assessing the role of different technologies (such as renewable energy sources) in achieving emission reduction goals.
  • Recognizing and pressure-testing the uncertainties and risks associated with future developments through sensitivity analysis and risk assessment techniques. Decision-makers can use this to consider scenarios that may be more resilient to uncertainty.

By following the bullet points above, Quadial’s sustainability team can explore the impact of:

  • Transitioning to renewable energy
  • Improving process efficiency
  • Using sustainable materials to produce chemicals
  • Implementing carbon capture and storage
  • Adopting a circular economy
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