With this book, the IEA explores a longer time horizon using two types of
long-term scenarios: "exploratory scenarios" and "normative scenarios".
Exploratory scenarios are based on the correct identification of a few
critical uncertainty factors and are designed to explore several plausible
Energy to 2050: Scenarios for a Sustainable Future
Energy to 2050: Scenarios for a Sustainable Future
future configurations of the world, based on different expectations of
technical and/or policy developments over the near- to medium-term.
Normative scenarios are a developed to evaluate “how” a specific outcome
can be reached. They are designed on the basis of a set of desirable
features (or “norms”) that the future world “should” possess (of course,
reflecting a bias of the agent elaborating the scenarios). The exercise then
consists of tracing backwards a viable path from such an outcome to
today – pointing the way to reaching that desirable future. This type of
scenario is inherently policy oriented and prescriptive, i.e. it assumes that
appropriate policy actions can shape a future in the desired image, and is
designed to identify the policy actions required. Such work requires
substantial effort because several scenarios (each with its own internally
consistent and plausible chains of events or storyline) have to be
developed in order to analyse how uncertainty factors play into future
development paths.
The results from these and other such scenarios can help identify robust
strategies to minimize costs of both economic dislocations and
environmental damage in the development of future energy paths, in turn,
assisting in promoting better policy choices in the energy sector. While the
scenarios depicted here do not represent a consensus view of the IEA
member countries – and equally, are not likely to come to pass in the
precise way they are outlined, the methodology which supports them
provides a useful tool for IEA country governments to assess and, when
appropriate, consider redirecting their energy and environment policies.

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International Energy Agency