At Breakthrough Energy, everything we do is grounded in science and data. We’re continually learning from the innovators, scientists, and analysts across our network who are doing the critical work of developing clean technologies and tools so we can make the best decisions for our investment vehicles, programs, and policy and advocacy efforts. What we know is that addressing climate change is one of the greatest challenges humankind has ever faced – and we need to let the data lead the way.

A close look at the historical and current data tells us a great deal about how greenhouse gas emissions have grown across the Five Grand Challenges in every nation across the globe – and how adopting clean technologies at scale will be critical to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Getting to Zero
Getting from 51 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year to zero will require the widespread adoption of clean technologies in every sector of the economy
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Five Grand Challenges
Electricity, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings account for the overwhelming majority of greenhouse gas emissions around the world – but the relative mix by country varies widely
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Green Premium
A core challenge for transitioning to clean energy is that clean technologies currently cost more than traditional, greenhouse gas emitting options – that cost difference is what we call the Green Premium
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Emission Profile Analysis
As the scale of global and country-level emissions have grown over time, the impact of individual Grand Challenges on the aggregate total has also shifted
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Historical Analysis
Plotting the global data over the past three decades shows how emissions have grown and shifted as countries have become more developed
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Sectoral Analysis
Each individual Grand Challenge is comprised of subsectors – with their own characteristics and challenges – that contribute to total emissions
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Data Documentation

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Sectoral Analysis

Data:
The circle chart represents historical greenhouse gases emission data in millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mmt CO2). These data are provided by the Rhodium Group.

Transformation:
Data are shown in percentage of gross emissions. We also display emissions from Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF), which is part of the Agriculture Grand Challenge and is the only sector that measures negative emissions.

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Getting to zero

Data:
Path to zero projections of greenhouse gases emission are represented in millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mmt CO2) and are provided by the Rhodium Group based on modeling done in partnership with Evolved Energy Research.

Projections are provided exclusively for USA emission data.

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Grand challenges

Data:
The stacked bar chart represents historical greenhouse gases emission data in millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mmt CO2). These data are provided by the Rhodium Group.

Transformation:
Data are shown in percentage of gross emissions. We also display emissions from Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF), which is part of the Agriculture Grand Challenge and is the only sector that measures negative emissions. Each missing data point is imputed to 0.

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Green premium

Electricity:
Estimates of the Green Premium for 100% clean electricity grid using current technology come from Rhodium Group and Evolved Energy Research (EER). Rhodium and EER used EER’s coupled Pathways and RIO modeling framework to quantify the increase in electricity rates that would likely occur if the U.S. transitioned to 100% zero carbon electricity by 2050 exclusively using current technology. For this modeling exercise, Rhodium and EER used technology cost projections from a range of sources, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Annual Technology Baselines and the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook. The results are sensitive to specific technology scenarios used as well as decarbonization pathways in other sectors of the economy. Across all scenarios, however, the green premium for electricity is relatively modest.

Transportation:
Estimates of the current cost of electrofuels come from Agora Energiewede’s 2018 global survey. Conventional gasoline prices come from the Energy Information Administration.

Manufacturing:
The Green Premium for cement is calculated using CCS cost estimates from the Global CCS Institute, and production, emissions and market price data from IEA, USGS, WorldSteel, NMRCA, McKinsey and other sources.

Buildings:
Estimates of the Green Premium for electric heat pumps come from Rhodium Group analysis using equipment cost estimates from a 2018 study by the Rocky Mountain Institute and fuel cost data from the Energy Information Administration.

Agriculture:
Estimates of the Green Premium for plant-based burger come from an online survey of U.S. retail prices in September 2020 conducted by Rhodium Group.

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Emission profile analysis

Data:
The pentagonal data explorer represents historical greenhouse gases emission data in millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mmt CO2). These data are provided by the Rhodium Group.

Transformation:
We have imputed missing values in the time series of historical emission data with this strategy:

  1. If the whole time series is missing we impute the missing values to 0.
  2. If the missing data points are at the beginning or at the end of the time series we impute them at the first or at the last observed value.
  3. If the missing data points are between two observations, we impute them by linear interpolation.

Each missing data point is imputed at the country level.

On the pentagon edges, challenges are ordered to maximize the correlation of emission values between nearby ones. In this way, two challenges with a similar greenhouse gases emission profile across countries, would appear next to each other.

When a single challenge is selected, imputed data point are labeled as N/A.

Historical Analysis

Data:
The scatterplot represents:

  • Historical greenhouse gases emission data in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mt CO2) or in millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (mmt CO2). These data are provided by the Rhodium Group.
  • Historical population data, which were sourced from the Statistical Division of United Nations, besides data for Kosovo, which were sourced from the World Bank Data Collection.
  • Historical Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data in current US Dollars ($) and that were sourced from the World Bank Data Collection.

Transformations:
We have imputed missing values in the historical emission data and in the historical GDP data with this strategy:

  1. If the whole time series is missing we impute the missing values to 0.
  2. If the missing data points are at the beginning or at the end of the time series we impute them at the first or at the last observed value.
  3. If the missing data points are between two observations, we impute them by linear interpolation.

Each missing data point is imputed at the country level, thus per capita values might display apparent fluctuation due to population changes.

When a single challenge is selected, imputed data point are labeled as N/A.