25 ways heavy industries can reach net zero – IEA report

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022 sets out 25 recommendations for how to get to net zero in 5 industries: power, hydrogen, road transport, steel and agriculture.
  • International collaboration and aligned global standards are key to speeding up the transition to net-zero emissions, the report says.
  • Decarbonizing faster will also keep technology costs down, it says.

Better international collaboration is vital for the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

That’s the message of the Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022, published by the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions.

The report looks at progress on reducing emissions in five key industry sectors – power, hydrogen, road transport, steel and agriculture – and calls for stronger cooperation between governments, business and society to speed up this transition.

Moving faster towards net zero will keep technology costs down, the authors argue. They make 25 recommendations across the five industries to make clean power, electric vehicles, sustainable farming and low-carbon steel and hydrogen the most affordable options as soon as possible.

The power industry is decarbonizing

1. Governments, companies, development banks and investors should jointly agree on priority projects to demonstrate and test technologies, including energy storage, that will support the delivery of net-zero power in the future.

2. International support for transitioning the power industry to net zero must be greater, better coordinated, more transparent and accessible.

3. Development funding in locations dependent on fossil fuels must be more closely aligned with local jobs, skills, investment and environmental restoration.

4. Countries should be working across borders to develop opportunities for electricity networks that help the power industry transition to clean energy.

5. Appliances that consume a lot of energy should have minimal energy performance standards, agreed collectively by countries and industry.

Hydrogen has a vital role in the clean energy transition

6. Industries already using low-carbon and renewable hydrogen should commit to using more of it. So-called green hydrogen is a carbon-free fuel produced using renewable energy.

7. Governments and companies should agree international standards and certification schemes for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. This should include measuring emissions and safety.

8. The number and geographical distribution of projects demonstrating hydrogen technology should be dramatically increased and cover uses in sectors including shipping and heavy industry.

9. Discounted finance should be available for well-targeted hydrogen uses that could attract large-scale private investment to hydrogen production and distribution in developing countries.

Road transport needs a more unified approach

10. Sales of all new road vehicles should be zero-emission by a date agreed between governments. For cars, this should be around 2035.

11. Key technologies will help road transport transition to zero emissions. Governments should agree and understand what these are, so they can send a “clear and unambiguous” signal to industry.

12. Governments should share their most effective methods for attracting investment and speeding up the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

13. Standards for vehicle charging infrastructure are inconsistent. There are different rules for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. Governments and industry need to work together to prevent standards diverging further.

14. Batteries for electric vehicles need to be produced in a way that is sustainable and socially responsible, including minimizing their environmental impact.

15. The efficiency and safety of used vehicles should be enforced through harmonized regulations between countries that import and export vehicles.

Near-zero emission steel needs more backing

16. Governments and companies need to agree on common definitions for low-emission and near-zero emission steel.

17. Commitments to buy near-zero emission steel should be raised to cover a “significant share” of governments’ and companies’ future steel demand.

18. Near-zero emission steel has to compete in international markets. Governments including producer and consumer countries should “urgently launch a strategic dialogue” on this.

19. Pilot projects in major steel-producing regions would allow shared technology learning. Governments and companies should work together to identify these.

20. Funding to help emerging and developing countries transition their steel industries to near-zero emission technologies should be significantly increased.

Agriculture must be sustainable and climate-resilient

21. More investment is needed in agricultural research, development and demonstration projects. Key areas of focus should include reducing food waste and emissions from livestock and fertilizers.

22. A “sharp increase” in international climate finance going to the agriculture industry is needed. This should include more for small and medium-sized enterprises, and for smallholder farmers in developing countries.

23. Redirect policies and support for agriculture towards sustainability and climate resilience. Partners including government, research institutions and the private sector need to develop, test and share ways of doing this.

24. Countries working towards sustainable agriculture should not be disadvantaged in international trade. Governments should start a strategic dialogue to avoid this.

25. International standards should be developed to report on the state of natural resources used by agriculture. This should include soil carbon content and pollinator health.

Industry net-zero initiatives

Decarbonizing carbon-intensive industrial sectors including aluminium, aviation, concrete, shipping and steel is the goal of the World Economic Forum’s First Movers Coalition.


What is the World Economic Forum doing to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint?

As other sectors proceed to decarbonize, the aviation sector could account for a much higher share of global greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century than its 2%-3% share today.

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) can reduce the life-cycle carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80%, but they currently make up less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption. Enabling a shift from fossil fuels to SAFs will require a significant increase in production, which is a costly investment.

The Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) Coalition is a global initiative driving the transition to sustainable aviation fuels as part of the aviation industry’s ambitious efforts to achieve carbon-neutral flying.

The coalition brings together government leaders, climate experts and CEOs from aviation, energy, finance and other sectors who agree on the urgent need to help the aviation industry reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The coalition aims to advance the commercial scale of viable production of sustainable low-carbon aviation fuels (bio and synthetic) for broad adoption in the industry by 2030. Initiatives include a mechanism for aggregating demand for carbon-neutral flying, a co-investment vehicle and geographically specific value-chain industry blueprints.

Learn more about the Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition’s impact and contact us to find out how you can get involved.

Nine governments and more than 50 member companies have joined the global initiative to accelerate clean technologies across seven areas of heavy industry that account for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Net-Zero Industry Tracker is another Forum initiative to help industrial sectors reach net zero by 2050. It includes a set of standard metrics to measure how industries are reducing their emissions and improving energy efficiency.

In the Energy Transition Index, the Forum and professional services firm Accenture suggest that the current energy crisis is an opportunity to increase clean energy investments “at record pace” and scale up the transition to clean energy sources.

The Index has tracked more than 100 countries for a decade as they transition towards clean, affordable and secure energy.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: