This report is a first-order analysis of a hypothetical 1.5°C scenario. As such, it has
several limitations.
First, it is not clear whether a 1.5°C scenario is achievable in the first place, nor what pathway
the world would take to achieve it if it were. Indeed, some believe that 1.5°C is already out
of reach, given the current trajectory of emissions and their potential to activate climatic
feedback loops, as well as prevailing challenges with revamping energy and land-use
systems. This research does not take a position on such questions. Instead, it seeks to
demonstrate the economic shifts that would need to take place if the goal of 1.5 degrees is to
be attained through a relatively orderly transition between now and 2050.
Second, this report is by nature and necessity limited in its scope. In particular it does not
focus on such issues as technology breakthroughs, physical constraints related to scaleup
capacity and the availability of natural resources, delayed-transition costs, the role of
adaptation, or other imponderables or uncertainties, nor have we yet modeled the full range
of economic outcomes likely under a net-zero transition. As a result, it is likely that real
outcomes will diverge from these estimates, particularly if the net-zero transition takes a more
disorderly path or restricting warming to 1.5°C proves unachievable. Spending requirements
could be higher, for example due to the additional investment needed to maintain flexibility
and redundancy in energy systems, or heightened physical risks and commensurate
adaptation costs.
Third, this report does not explore the critical question of who pays for the transition. What is
clear is that the transition will require collective and global action, particularly as the burdens
of the transition would not be evenly felt. The prevailing notion of enlightened self-interest
alone is unlikely to be sufficient to help achieve net zero, and the transition would challenge
traditional orthodoxies and require unity, resolve, and ingenuity from leaders.
We nonetheless hope that our scenario-based analysis will help decision makers refine
their understanding of the nature and the magnitude of the changes the net-zero transition
would entail and the scale of response needed to manage it. We also hope that our attempts
to describe as accurately as we can the challenges that lie ahead are seen as what they are:
a call for more thoughtful and more decisive action, urgency, and resolve.

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