Efforts to decarbonize high-emission industrial sectors are gaining momentum – EnviroNews

A growing number of global and regional initiatives are driving efforts to implement decarbonization technologies across carbon-intensive industrial sectors. This was the main conclusion of experts gathered last month at a meeting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), the policy arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism.

Reducing energy consumption while increasing steel production efficiency

The industrial sector has enormous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as it currently accounts for approximately 34 percent of all emissions. About 70 percent of industrial emissions come from hard-to-abate industries – industries where reducing their greenhouse gas footprint is particularly difficult because they are energy-intensive and carbon-intensive. Decarbonization initiatives in these sectors are therefore crucial to maintaining the 1.5°C temperature target set in the Paris Agreement.

The cement, steel, glass and chemicals sectors, as well as the heavy transport sector, have so far received little attention in national climate action plans (nationally determined contributions, NDCs). The next round of country-specific NDCs, with a time horizon of 2035, is due to be submitted next year.

The mapping exercise represents transformational activities

TEC, in association with United Nations Industrial Development Organization, recently conducted mapping to review transformative climate action initiatives in industries where impacts are difficult to mitigate, including steel, cement, chemicals and petrochemicals.

The exercise sees the integration of renewable energy in electrification as a key way to decarbonise the industry, with reduced emissions, increased energy efficiency and increased productivity and innovation. Examples of already effective actions to reduce emissions in difficult-to-abate industries include:

  • The Indonesian government, in cooperation with Japan, has implemented technology to capture waste heat generated in furnaces to preheat the air. The combustion system using a regenerative burner results in a remarkable reduction in energy consumption by 35% while increasing steel production by 15%.
  • French company Hoffmann Green has revolutionized the cement industry with innovative technology that enables the production of low-emission cement, marking a significant shift in low-emission construction practices. The company managed to reduce carbon emissions by an impressive 82% compared to traditional methods.
  • Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem SA has developed the world’s first bioplastic from sustainably sourced sugarcane for packaging consumer products, including tetra beverage packaging. The company’s goal is to achieve full carbon neutrality of its operations by 2050.

Some specific findings and recommendations from TEC mapping:

  • The UNFCCC Technology Mechanism plays a key role in recommending strategies for establishing links between global industry players, technology providers, initiatives and funding bodies to strengthen global cooperation in technology development and deployment.
  • To address variability in the feasibility of green hydrogen and electricity production, countries with net-zero targets in hard-to-abate industries are advised to explore opportunities to source resources from other countries, with support from international development organizations.
  • To accelerate global transformation efforts, it is recommended to accelerate the development of standard life cycle assessments (LCAs) and promote knowledge exchange between countries on decarbonization technologies.
  • International development organizations are called upon to play a role in facilitating financial, technical and capacity-building support from developed to developing countries to ensure equitable participation in climate action efforts, in line with UNFCCC and Paris Agreement commitments.

Next steps for international action to tackle industrial emissions

Based on the mapping results, TEC, in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, agreed to develop a policy outline and host a Technology Day focusing on incorporating industrial decarbonization into updated NDCs prepared by countries around the world this year.

The policy outline will outline specific policy and technology options to reduce emissions from the steel, cement, chemical and petrochemical industries and how they can be implemented, including through international cooperation, research, development and demonstration (RD&D) and the use of blended finance to reduce emissions. -risky private sector investments.

And at COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan later this year, TEC will host a Technology Day with the aim of supporting the inclusion of hard-to-restrict industries in updated NDCs and supporting the implementation of country-identified climate actions in this area.

The United Nations Climate Change Organization, in partnership with the COP28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies, is also supporting the decarbonization of carbon-intensive industries through its recently launched Industrial Transformation Accelerator (ITA) program.