Hal Harvey’s Insights And Updates: Net Zero Industry Emissions Possible by 2070

Industry Contribution To Global GHG Emissions

The industrial sector was responsible for 33 percent of global anthropogenic emissions in 2014, and industrial emissions are only projected to rise – direct industrial emissions rose 65 percent from 1990 to 2014.

Industry is at the core of low-carbon solutions – it produces renewable energy technology, electric vehicles, energy efficient appliances and buildings – but it is also one of the hardest economic sectors to decarbonize. Limiting global warming to 2°C requires reaching net zero emissions by 2050-2070, but this is no small task.

The good news is that more than 90 percent of these emissions come from about a dozen industries, so a limited set of product and process improvements can secure large emissions reductions. Energy Innovation’s Jeff Rissman led a group of 30 experts to author a comprehensive guide to decarbonizing industry, Technologies and Policies to Decarbonize Global Industry, published in the journal Applied Energy.

Policies To Accelerate Industrial Sector DecarbonizationThe paper is an authoritative resource on industrial decarbonization, laying out the necessary technical measures and policies needed to make net zero industry a reality by 2070. Several technologies and policies can rapidly reduce industrial emissions and make investing in cleaner industrial processes more profitable. Key technologies include energy and material efficiency, carbon capture, electrification, and zero-carbon hydrogen.

This blueprint for industrial decarbonization charts a path for the future, but is relevant today. Companies that invest in improved technology will become economic leaders for the remainder this century when climate change concerns will make inefficiency, high emissions, and volatile fossil fuel supplies increasingly serious business liabilities. Policymakers who enact smart industrial decarbonization policies can ensure a just transition for displaced workers and complement the human and economic development of low- and middle-income countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have brought us to an energy policy crossroads: will we bail out the industries of the past, or invest in the industries of the future? This new research points the way to the smarter choice.