Industrial sector decarbonization is a critical step toward achieving a livable climate future. Industrial activities such as manufacturing and construction are responsible for roughly a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, when including emissions associated with the electricity and heat purchased by industry—the highest level of any economic sector.
Even without indirect emissions from purchased heat and electricity, industrial processes contribute approximately one-fifth of global emissions. Fortunately, a combination of promising technologies and well-designed policies now make achieving a net zero industrial sector globally by 2050-2070.
Just three industries—iron and steel, chemicals and plastics, and cement—account for roughly 55 percent of industrial emissions, and the top 10 industries are responsible for roughly 90 percent of industrial emissions. So focusing on a limited set of product and process improvements in these industries can generate outsized results.
Technological innovations are only part of the picture. Strategic, well-designed policies incentivize adoption of low-carbon manufacturing technology while making investments in cleaner processes more profitable. These policies include well-designed carbon pricing, support for research and development, industrial energy efficiency, industrial process emissions standards, and green government procurement programs.
Industry is the core of a clean economy: It is responsible for producing technologies like renewable electricity generation facilities, clean vehicles, and energy-efficient buildings. We must reduce industrial emissions even as industries continue to supply transformational technologies and infrastructure that advance a net-zero future. Fortunately, with the right technologies and policies in place, industry can grow while reducing emissions and without compromising product quality.
Energy Innovation’s Industry Program provides best-in-class advice to policymakers, regulators, and those operating within industry on the most rapid and cost-effective industrial emissions reduction technologies. Our evidence-based research identifies the best strategies for addressing industrial sector decarbonization challenges.
Our team led development of a groundbreaking research paper, along with 30 other expert co-authors, which is an authoritative resource on industrial decarbonization. Technologies and Policies to Decarbonize Global Industry: Review and Assessment of Mitigation Drivers Through 2070 lays out the necessary technical measures and policies needed to make net zero industry a reality by 2070.
The Industry Program led development of a groundbreaking research paper, along with 30 other expert co-authors, that is an authoritative resource on industrial decarbonization. Technologies and Policies to Decarbonize Global Industry: Review and Assessment of Mitigation Drivers Through 2070 lays out a detailed pathway to zero industrial emissions by mid-century, demonstrating how existing technologies, along with a suite of smart policies, can rapidly reduce industrial emissions and make investing in cleaner industrial processes more profitable.
By identifying the most innovative and promising technologies, while modeling the policy opportunities to scale up sector-wide solutions, we inform smart policy design and decision-making.
As most industrial emissions come from low-income countries, the ISD program seeks mindful recommendations that are compatible with human and economic development goals, which is crucial for uptake by policymakers.