Mission Possible: We’re helping heavy industry reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Published
02 Jan 2020

The impact.

To achieve the Paris Agreement's goal of keeping global warming to below 2˚C, it’s imperative that heavy industry plays its part.

The aluminium, cement, chemicals, steel, aviation, trucking and shipping sectors together currently emit an estimated 11.2 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases a year, representing about 20% of total global emissions.

The World Economic Forum is working with the Energy Transitions Commission and industry partners through its Mission Possible platform to ensure heavy industry and heavy-duty transport sectors reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in developed countries.

“Individual companies cannot achieve the clean industry transition in isolation. The heavy industry and transport sectors need to come together to fight climate change and move towards a net-zero economy by 2050."

Dominic Waughray, Managing Director, World Economic Forum

What’s the challenge?

The heavy industry and transport sectors are on course to account for 15.7 gigatonnes of carbon emissions by 2050 if left unabated. This is more than the entire carbon budget the world can emit in 2050 if we want to limit global warming to below 2°C.

Certain heavy industry sectors – including aluminium, cement, chemicals, steel, aviation, trucking and shipping – are referred to as ‘hard to abate’ because the solutions for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions are significantly complicated.

In some cases, the sheer quantity of power needed makes switching to renewable energy sources a slow process, especially in countries with limited resources. For cement, the chemistry involved in the process is the issue, while aviation and shipping are heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

This initiative is creating tipping points across the hard-to-abate sectors to set the industry on a net-zero pathway

Our approach.

Building on the Mission Possible Report, the Mission Possible Platform aligns the decarbonization pathways of heavy industry and transport with the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to well below 2°C (3.6°F), and as close as possible to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

The platform convenes ambitious business leaders and the finance sector with governments to design and implement supportive policy. New alliances between hard-to-abate actors are being forged.

In the aviation sector, Heathrow and Schipol airports have set targets to become carbon neutral by 2050. Fuel providers like Shell and airlines including Spice Jet and KLM are moving the aviation industry towards carbon-neutral flying through a transition to sustainable aviation fuels.

In trucking, Scania and Volvo are collaborating with end customers and fuel producers to bring down emissions from trucking.

The shipping industry has banded together to get zero-emission vessels running along deep-sea trade routes by 2030. This initiative is spearheaded by Citi, Lloyd’s Register, Cargill, Maersk and Shell under the umbrella of the Global Maritime Forum and the Friends of Ocean Action.

Chemicals companies have gathered to accelerate the development of clean production technologies through collaborative innovation led by the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Governors Community at the World Economic Forum. Chemicals giant, BASF, is aiming for carbon-neutral growth by 2030.

Pioneer projects like Hybrit are showing the way forward in the steel industry. This is a joint project between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall to create zero-carbon steel by using hydrogen rather than coal during coking.

Businesses in the aluminium sector are developing low-carbon smelting and refining processes, increasing renewable energy sourcing and recycling rates. EN+ is leading the charge in a new initiative called Aluminium for Climate.

How can you get involved?

Reaching net-zero carbon emissions from heavy industry and heavy-duty transport sectors is technically and financially possible by mid-century – 2050 in developed countries and 2060 in developing countries.

Strong support from government and NGO partners is crucial to deliver these goals and since its launch in September 2019, the Mission Possible platform has engaged almost 300 partner organisations who are working together to realise what is possible.

The Mission Possible initiative is managed by the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Global Public Goods. Companies across the heavy industry and transport sectors are encouraged take part in the fight against climate change.

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