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Eliminating CO2 emissions from industry and transport in line with 1.5°C target – IRENA report

Renewable energy holds the key to most of the options available to reach zero emissions in industry and transport, according to a new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report. Presented by IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera at the high-level Clean Energy Ministerial-Mission Innovation meeting on September 21, 2020, it sends a strong message that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C will require all sectors of the economy to go carbon neutral by mid-century.

Low-carbon options, including electric vehicles and clean fuels based on renewables, have become familiar in many countries. But we need to start developing and proving viable solutions for all sectors immediately – and be ready to scale them up massively in the 2030 and 2040s, said Francesco La Camera.

Without major policy changes, seven industry and transport sectors will account for 38 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 43 percent of energy use globally in 2050, IRENA’s “Reaching Zero with Renewables” report finds.

Options that deliver only partial emission reductions will not be enough for energy-intensive industrial sectors like iron and steel, chemicals, cement, and aluminum as well as long-distance aviation, shipping, and road freight transport.

To be in line with the 1.5⁰C goal, decision-makers in both the public and private sectors need a clearer view of what needs to be done. Falling technology costs and proven synergies have now opened a credible path to cut emissions to zero. Our new report shows, that renewable energy uptake would provide at least half of the emission cuts needed in the seven toughest sectors, La Camera said.

Reaching this ultimate global climate goal of zero-emissions requires eliminating direct CO2 emissions from energy use and industrial processes alike. It calls for inter-linked sector-level strategies at the local, national, and international levels, built on the five technology pillars of demand reduction and energy efficiency, renewable electricity, renewable heat and biofuels, green hydrogen, and e-fuels, and carbon-removal technologies to provide both energy and feedstocks.

Decarbonisation options for each sector span efficiency improvements, electrification, direct heat, and fuel production using renewables, along with CO2 removal measures.

Hot coke being discharged from the coking plant where coal is converted into metallurgical coke at SSAB’s steel mill in Luleå before transport to the quench tower for cooling. The coke gas and coke are used in the blast-furnace as fuel and the reducing agent. The HYBRIT project ultimately aims to replace all fossil-carbon use in steelmaking by using hydrogen.

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