Global fossil fuel reduction pathways under different climate mitigation strategies and ambitions
The mitigation scenarios database of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report is an important resource for informing policymaking on energy transitions. However, there is a large variety of models, scenario designs, and resulting outputs. Here we analyse the scenarios consistent with limiting warming to 2 °C or below regarding the speed, trajectory, and feasibility of different fossil fuel reduction pathways. In scenarios limiting warming to 1.5 °C with no or limited overshoot, global coal, oil, and natural gas supply (intended for all uses) decline on average by 95%, 62%, and 42%, respectively, from 2020 to 2050, but the long-term role of gas is highly variable. Higher-gas pathways are enabled by higher carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR), but are likely associated with inadequate model representation of regional CO2 storage capacity and technology adoption, diffusion, and path-dependencies. If CDR is constrained by limits derived from expert consensus, the respective modelled coal, oil, and gas reductions become 99%, 70%, and 84%. Our findings suggest the need to adopt unambiguous near- and long-term reduction benchmarks in coal, oil, and gas production and use alongside other climate mitigation targets.