Deep Decarbonization Pathways Approach

The Deep Decarbonization Pathways (DDP) network builds and brings to the public debate realistic pathways to inform tomorrow’s public and private policy decisions compatible with achieving global carbon neutrality by 2050-2070. These pathways are designed by in-country experts to deeply reduce GHG emissions while satisfying country-specific socio-economic objectives. These pathways characterize the different sectoral transformations and associated feasibility conditions following the principles of the common DDP approach and pathway design framework. 

DDP analyses use a transparent common methodology to design and compare pathways across geographies and sectors. This is based on a rigorous yet flexible framework, proposed on an open source basis, so that every government or stakeholder can adopt it.

The main strengths of the DDP approach and pathway design framework are:

  • helping to build qualitative narratives around the comprehensive consideration of decarbonization drivers and feasibility conditions
  • translating them into quantified pathways through a combination of analytical methods and expert assessments
  • enabling their communication and comparison through standardised outputs in a transparent way.

The comparability is important because it allows a constructive debate among stakeholders with different interests within a country, as well as on an international level. Knowing and understanding the strategies of other countries allows to learn from each other and to identify useful cooperation areas.

The DDP methodology comprises five steps:

  1. Storyline – Developing a consistent narrative of the transition that describes the evolution of decarbonization drivers covering the economic, demographic, technical, organisational, and behavioural dimensions. 
  2. Computation – Compiling these assumptions, ensuring consistency, and calculating their effects through detailed indicators. These calculations can be done through different modelling tools, expert-based assessments and other quantitative assessment methods. Some sectoral DDP tools propose a user-friendly approach to this step.
  3. Dashboard – Providing a quantitative representation of the pathway, showing its components and effects, through selected indicators.
  4. Check – Verifying the consistency of the pathway based on the indicators across its interrelated assumptions. In case of inconsistencies, the design should return to step 1.
  5. Communication – Visualising the pathway and its key elements with graphs.

This approach was first used in a project carried out ahead of COP21, in 2014-2015. Research teams from 16 of the countries producing the largest amount of carbon emissions proposed decarbonization pathways for their economies and brought them to the domestic and international debate. These efforts contributed to the China-USA dialogue ahead of COP21 and led to the mention of “long-term low carbon development strategies” in Article 4.19 of the Paris Agreement.

Key publications about the DDP approach and methodology: 

  • The need for national deep decarbonization pathways for effective climate policy (link)  
  • A pathway design framework for national low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (link) 
  • A pathway design framework for sectoral deep decarbonization: the case of passenger transportation (link)
  • A low GHG development pathway design framework for agriculture, forestry and land use (link)
  • A pathway design framework for sectoral deep decarbonisation: the case of freight transportation, submitted and under review

Explore Current Policy and Deep Decarbonization scenarios

The project that used the Deep Decarbonization Pathways (DDP) approach ahead of COP21 resulted in the development of the first pathway vizualisation tool. For 16 of the largest emitting countries, it displayed several deep decarbonization pathways proposed by DDP in-country research teams.

This website hosts a third-generation pathway visualization tool that integrates new knowledge and enables to cover different sectors.