Net zero industry to decarbonise aluminium, ammonia and steel

net zero industry

Net zero industry has taken a major step toward production of near-zero emissions materials including aluminium, ammonia and steel.

Net zero industry leaders at New York Climate Week have endorsed strategies from the Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) to decarbonise some of world’s hardest-to-abate, carbon-intensive industries in this decade.

The new plans have won support from 60 companies, bringing to more than 200 the tally of endorsements for MPP’s published Sector Transition Strategies which also include aviation, shipping and trucking.

The signatories reflect growing momentum among high-ambition companies including steelmakers ArcelorMittal, Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional, Liberty Steel, SSAB, Rio Tinto, Tata Steel, thyssenkrupp and Vale; aluminium producers Alcoa, Rio Tinto and EGA; and in the ammonia sector, CF Industries, BASF, SABIC and Yara, as well as renewable energy providers Ørsted, Iberdrola and ACWA Power. These three sectors jointly contribute about 17% of global GHG emissions.

MPP, an alliance of leading net zero industry organisations working to decarbonise hard-to-abate industries, presented two new STS reports for aluminium and ammonia, and an updated steel strategy, during Sustainable Development Impact Meetings at Climate Week. Participants included senior industrialists and representatives from governments and the financial industry, hosted by the World Economic Forum.

Matt Rogers, CEO of MPP said: “These transition plans are operationally relevant and industry-backed, not wishful thinking or pie in the sky. We know how to reduce emissions, initially deploying resources and technology available today. The imperative is to act now, in this decade: we’re working with industry, supply chains and finance to deliver the clear thinking and asset-by-asset plans to make net zero viable”.

Each STS is premised on the deployment of available net zero industry technologies by 2030, a date that looms near for industry incumbents operating old-economy assets. The reports detail specific requirements – with real-economy milestones – for clean energy, new or retrofitted industrial plants, and policy reform to meet sectoral carbon budgets aligned to the  Paris Agreement goal to curb global heating to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2050.

Faustine Delasalle, vice-chair of the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), a founding partner of MPP, said: “Support for these strategies from more than 200 industry leaders sends a signal of hope: companies around the world are committed to invest at scale for a net-zero-emissions economy. The data developed by ETC with MPP partners will inform targets and actions from companies in key value chains, as well as financial institutions and governments – and helps all of us to keep decision-makers accountable”.

In the steel sector, early progress in net zero industry breakthrough projects and increased supply of near-zero primary steel are essential to remain within a Paris-aligned sectoral carbon budget. MPP estimates that commercialisation of net-zero technologies would cost up to $200 billion per year, implying significantly higher demand for hydrogen, clean electricity and natural gas, but a stark decline in coal consumption.

Sanjiv Paul, vice-president for safety, health and sustainability at Tata Steel, said: “This strategy has laid down the challenges for the steel industry to decarbonise. We are collaborating with suppliers, downstream partners, start-ups, academia, and communities within our area of influence to work towards mitigating the threat of climate change”.

Aluminium plays an enabling role in net zero industry and decarbonising the world economy. MPP’s STS strategy for primary aluminium would mobilise clean power, improved material efficiency and recycling at a cost of up to $1 trillion to reduce carbon emissions by 95%. In a business-as-usual scenario, the sector will emit a cumulative 37 gigatons of carbon by 2050, an overshoot of more than double the Paris-aligned carbon budget of 15 gigatons.

Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, CEO of Emirates Global Aluminium, said: “Aluminum plays an essential role in decarbonisation economy-wide, but it also matters how aluminum is made. Decarbonising aluminium by 2050 requires rapid and proactive cooperation with other sectors, from developing more renewables to designing final products that are easily recyclable. The Mission Possible Partnership’s roadmap will help us achieve this great task.”

 MPP forecast demand for ammonia could increase six-fold by 2050, driven my new markets for green ammonia as a marine fuel and for power generation. The shipping sector has the potential to make or break demand for near-zero emissions ammonia. Coordination by policymakers to adopt, certify and expand ammonia’s new application as a marine fuel will be critical to this transition to net zero industry.

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