News Brief

Arup Envisions Plausible Climate Futures

The four 2050 scenarios range from apocalyptic to acceptable.

Four Plausible Futures: 2050 Scenarios

Researchers mapped trends along two axes—societal conditions and planetary health—to create the scenarios.

Image: Arup
At this point, there is no escaping the effects of global warming on our climate and our society. But what will those changes look like? Arup tries to answer that question in a December 2019 report titled Four Plausible Futures: 2050 Scenarios. The purpose of the report is to help firms prepare design solutions based on global trends.

To arrive at the four different scenarios, researchers mapped trends along two axes: societal conditions and planetary health. This resulted in four quadrants reflecting the four possible scenarios.

  • Extinction Express—In this disastrous future, the pursuit of economic goals over societal or environmental ones has resulted in political instability and a lack of social services in the face of extreme climate change. Projected average global temperature rise is 2.5ºC.
  • Greentocracy—Here, environmental imperatives come at the cost of civil liberties, with governments imposing strict carbon regulations and rationing. Projected average temperature rise is 1.5ºC.
  • Humans Inc.—In this scenario, societal conditions have improved for most people at the expense of the environment. For example, there is a low wealth gap but frequent and intense extreme weather. Infrastructure is stressed due to the changing climate. Researchers identified this scenario as representing our current trajectory. Projected average temperature rise is 2.0ºC.
  • Post Anthropocene—This future is one of balance between environmental and societal needs. Characterized by a low income gap and stable weather, the Post Anthropocene scenario comes about because global powers recognize the danger they are in and shift focus from economic growth to human and planetary well-being. Average temperature rise is 1.3ºC.

“In developing these scenarios, it became clear that today’s actions play a significant role in the future we will experience,” noted the report authors. “We all have the opportunity and responsibility to work towards a future that benefits us all.”

For more information:


Published February 10, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, January 22). Arup Envisions Plausible Climate Futures. Retrieved from

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