The industrial production of key materials is an essential enabler of modern economies. As countries develop, demand for such material continues to grow. However, that production currently comes with high CO2 emissions. Industry accounts for around 28% of total global CO2 emissions, but four industrial sectors in particular – iron and steel, chemicals and petrochemicals, cement and lime, and aluminium – account for almost threequarters of total industrial emissions.
The majority of energy used in industry is currently sourced from fossil fuels. But energy use is not the only source of emissions in the industrial sector; CO2 emissions must also be eliminated from production processes and from the life cycle of products. Reducing emissions and eventually reaching zero will require radical shifts in how such materials are produced, consumed and disposed of.
To date, however, the need to drive long-term emission reductions in these four industrial sectors has not received the necessary policy attention. A number of reasons account for this lack of action. Two in particular are key. Firstly, only a few economically viable CO2 emission reduction solutions are currently available for these industrial sectors, and no consensus exists on which of the options are most suitable. Secondly, carbon leakage — that is, the transfer of production to other locations where emission reduction requirements are lower – is a deterrent in promoting decarbonising efforts.
Ways to reach zero 🔰
➖ Reduced demand and improved energy efficiency
➖ Direct use of clean electricity – predominantly produced from renewable sources
➖ Direct use of renewable heat and biomass – including solar thermal, geothermal, biofuels and bio-feedstocks
➖ Indirect use of clean electricity via synthetic fuels and feedstocks – predominantly using renewable electricity
➖ Use of carbon dioxide removal measures – including carbon capture, utilisation and/or storage (CCUS)