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  • Writer's pictureMaya Ardon

What is the carbonomics cost curve?

Written by: Maya Ardon

Edited by: Vanessa Lu Langley

Carbonomics is essentially an economic model of moving towards net-zero emissions. Goldman Sachs, a multinational investment banking firm, releases a report concerning the “Carbonomics cost curve” every year, which shows the effect of factors like technological innovation and policy on the cost of decarbonization. The Carbonomics cost curve shows the “reduction potential of anthropogenic GHG emissions” through different kinds of technology across all major emitting sectors (including agriculture, mobility, and power generation (Della Vigna & Clarke, 2021). In the 2021 report, the institution reported that the increases in fossil fuel prices – compared to those in 2020 – have driven a majority of the 12% flattening of the Carbonomics cost curve from the previous year (Della Vigna & Clarke, 2021). The company claims that carbon pricing is an important aspect of the pathway to achieving net-zero; the curve shows that higher carbon prices will be needed to achieve decarbonization, to incentivize more sustainable innovation and reduce emissions (Della Vigna & Stavrinou, 2021).

The company has constructed three global paths to the ultimate net-zero carbon goal that are based off of different scenarios:

  1. The most “aspirational” scenario which is consistent with the projected 1.5℃ global temperature rise, which aims to achieve decarbonization by 2050.

  2. “The Paris Agreement Scenario” to keep a global temperature rise below 2℃ and achieve decarbonization by 2060.

  3. The “less aspirational scenario” that projects carbon neutrality by 2070 and a 50-50 probability of achieving 2℃ global warming by 2100. (Della Vigna & Stavrinou, 2021).


Della Vigna, M. & Clarke, Z. (2021). The dual action of Capital Markets transforms the Net Zero cost curve. Goldman Sachs Equity Research.

Della Vigna, M., & Stavrinou, Z. (2021). Carbonomics: Introducing the GS net zero carbon models and sector frameworks. Goldman Sachs.

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