Decarbonising the global steel and cement sectors calls for more than zero carbon fuels—now
The steel and cement industries both have large emissions profiles. In 2015, around five percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions came from the steel industry—accounting for around 2.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) per year. Cement-related emissions have nearly doubled their share of global greenhouse gas emissions—rising from 2.8 percent in 1990 to 5.5 percent in 2010, reaching more than 2.6 GtCO2e per year.
Decarbonisation of our energy system, (i.e., the transition towards net-zero CO2 emissions), can be achieved through higher energy efficiency, a zero-carbon electricity supply, electrification of residual demand, and zero-carbon fuels.
While these measures can set the buildings and transport sectors onto an emissions pathway compatible with the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal, this is not sufficient for industry, especially in steel and cement production.
The analysis finds that improvements in efficiency, decarbonisation of the energy supply for both steel and cement and a move towards circular value chains can lead to significant emissions reductions. CAT’s latest study found that the combined effect is estimated to be an around 30%–50% reduction compared to current trends by 2050. This is a good start, but not the near-complete decarbonisation required for the Paris goal by around 2050.
“In short, emissions from these industrial processes are a difficult nut to crack, as large chunks of them are not related to conventional fossil fuel combustion,” said Sebastian Sterl of NewClimate Institute, one of the lead authors of the study.
The CAT looked at three different scenarios for the steel and cement industries, using country case studies for the EU, China and Nigeria. One scenario follows current trends, one represents a shift towards decarbonisation of the energy supply, and one represents steps towards circular value chains.
“To reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, we will need solutions for both of these industries, including increased R&D into innovative, low-emission production processes such as routes using carbon capture and storage (CCS) or renewables-based hydrogen,” according to Lindee Wong of Ecofys, a Navigant company.
“It will also require a shift to using materials more efficiently, as well as substitution with lower emissions-intensive alternatives,” added Dr. Ursula Fuentes of Climate Analytics.
The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) is an independent scientific analysis that measures government climate action against the globally agreed aim of holding warming well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
It is a joint project of the following organisations:
Climate Analytics is a non-profit organisation based in Berlin, Germany, with offices in Lomé, Togo and New York, USA, that brings together inter-disciplinary expertise in the scientific and policy aspects of climate change. Its activities include: synthesising and advancing scientific knowledge in the area of climate change science, policy and impacts; providing science and policy support to the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in international climate negotiations, and the tracking and analysing the effectiveness of national climate policies globally.
Ecofys – Experts in Energy
Ecofys, a Navigant company, is a leading international energy and climate consultancy focused on sustainable energy for everyone. Founded in 1984, the company is a trusted advisor to governments, corporations, NGOs, and energy providers worldwide. The team delivers powerful results in the energy and climate transition sectors. Working across the entire energy value chain, Ecofys develops innovative solutions and strategies to support its clients in enabling the energy transition and working through the challenges of climate change.
NewClimate Institute is a non-profit institute established in 2014. NewClimate Institute supports research and implementation of action against climate change around the globe, covering the topics international climate negotiations, tracking climate action, climate and development, climate finance and carbon market mechanisms. NewClimate Institute aims at connecting up-to-date research with the real world decision making processes.
Carbon capture and storage could unleash 86 billion tonne carbon bomb
A new analysis finds reliance on carbon capture and storage could release an extra 86 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere between 2020 and 2050.
Projected warming almost unchanged for two years as governments push false solutions over climate action
Despite their promises, governments have not taken enough action to drive down warming projections, with some instead turning to false solutions such as carbon capture and storage to continue the world's reliance on fossil fuels, according to the Climate Action Tracker's annual warming update.
Oil and gas majors could have paid for their share of climate loss and damage and still earned 10 trillion USD: new report
Global climate damages from emissions associated with the top 25 oil and gas ‘carbon majors’ between 1985 and 2018 are estimated at 20 trillion USD compared to the 30 trillion USD they earned over the same period, according to a new report released today by international think tank Climate Analytics.
A 1.5˚C pathway for the Philippines power sector entirely feasible: analysis
With the right international funding and policies in place, the Philippines could transition its’ power sector to near-100% renewable energy without compromising on the costs of electricity, reducing its reliance on expensive imports of both coal and gas, and creating up to a million jobs by 2050.
State of Climate Action report finds progress lags on every measure except EV sales
Global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are failing across the board, with recent progress made on every indicator — except electric passenger car sales — lagging significantly behind the pace and scale that is necessary to address the climate crisis.
Governments plan to produce double the fossil fuels in 2030 than the 1.5°C warming limit allows
The Production Gap Report finds governments plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 69% more than would be consistent with 2°C.
Beetaloo fracking and Middle Arm emissions wildly underestimated: analysis
An independent analysis of the projected emissions from the Northern Territory's proposed Beetaloo Basin gas fracking project — and the associated Middle Arm LNG precinct in Darwin Harbour — has found they've been gravely underestimated, as have the availability of offsets to deal with them.
Comic artists respond to the climate crisis
Three leading comic creators have collaborated with the Horizon Europe project, CONSTRAIN, to develop comics exploring the climate change challenge.
Adelle Thomas elected as Vice-Chair of the IPCC's Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability group
Dr. Adelle Thomas elected as Vice-Chair of the IPCC's Working Group II contribution on on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability for the seventh assessment report cycle
Changes to the jet stream could trigger simultaneous crop failures impacting global food security
This new study finds that the jet stream – air currents in the upper atmosphere – can synchronise extreme weather caused by climate change, resulting in crop failures in multiple countries at the same time.