February 7, 2023
Decarbonization

What is Decarbonization?

Decarbonization typically refers to the process of lowering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Reducing the number of greenhouse gases emitted when fossil fuels are used. Decarbonization is the process of reducing CO2 emissions caused by human activity with the ultimate goal of eliminating them.

The Paris Agreement of 2015 set the objective of reducing global warming to 1.5°C and implementing measures to keep it there, including aiming for net carbon neutrality by 2050. In practice, switching from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources is essential to achieving zero net emissions.

What is Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international agreement on climate change. On December 12, 2015, 196 Parties accepted it at COP 21 in Paris, and it went into force on November 4, 2016. The goal is to keep warming far below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Countries seek to reach the peak of global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to achieve climatic neutrality.

It is a historic process because, for the first time, a legally binding agreement brings all nations together behind aggressive actions to combat climate change and prepare for its consequences. On April 22, 2016, also known as Earth Day, a ceremony in New York officially opened the Paris Agreement for signature.

How Does Decarbonization Work

Decarbonization means reducing the use of fossil fuels while increasing the use of low-carbon energy generation. This encourages the use of renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar power, and wind power. The decarbonization process must be hastened in order to meet the net zero goals. So, how do we get there?

Along with “greener” technologies, the broad use of electric vehicles can help reduce carbon power consumption. If carbon intensity in the electricity and transportation sectors is lowered, net zero emission targets can be met more quickly in conformity with legal requirements.

When Does Decarbonization Occur?

Various nations have started decarbonization efforts, and more than 150 governments have submitted plans to cut carbon emissions by 2030. Paris has committed to outlawing diesel vehicles beginning in 2040, while TfL has plans to switch to all-electric and all-electric hybrid London buses and black taxis.

Renewable energy sources are also becoming more widely used, accounting for one-third of all power capacity globally. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, with over 20 large-scale CCS facilities now in operation worldwide and more under construction.

Why is Decarbonization Important?

Following the declaration of a climate emergency by Parliament, the Committee on Climate Change determined that achieving net zero emissions was not only achievable but also vital and cost-effective.

Many countries and business leaders have established targets and made commitments to reduce carbon emissions in response to the 2015 Paris Agreement’s ambition. Because it plays a critical role in controlling global warming, decarbonization has become a global necessity and a priority for governments, businesses, and society at large.

Many corporations in all areas (for example, energy, transportation, and consumer goods) have publicly stated their desire to become carbon neutral by 2050.

What is Needed for the Transition?

As previously stated, an increasing number of businesses and governments are addressing climate change by declaring emissions targets and climate initiatives on a daily basis. While these efforts are admirable in and of themselves, they are frequently exclusively focused on the organization’s own activities.

What is required is a more holistic system of systems strategy that unlocks important potential in the transition to a low-carbon economy by engaging in the confluence of emergent low-carbon projects.

Adopting a systems-thinking approach can aid in the successful transition to a low-carbon future. Governments, consumers, corporations, and industries must all accept responsibility and work together to develop a better future.

To achieve the goal, progress must be made, particularly in the more difficult-to-abate areas. These industries have features such as extended asset lifespans, significant energy dependency, and electrification complexity. They account for around 32% of worldwide CO2 emissions.

Decarbonizing the Industries:

The industries responsible for the majority of global greenhouse-gas emissions have a significant barrier to decarbonising, but our research indicates that solutions are within reach. In many cases, a shift has already begun. This collection brings together publications and reports that outline a roadmap to net zero emissions for nine emissions-intensive industries.

Power

Renewable energy costs have plummeted dramatically over the last decade, with solar power dropping by up to 80% and wind power dropping by roughly 40%, making them economically competitive with traditional fuels like coal and natural gas.

A successful transition to net zero will include increased electricity demand by increasing renewable energy, low-carbon power generation and increasing power system flexibility to match supply and demand.

Oil & Gas

Several oil and gas corporations have established net-zero emissions targets for their operations. Others are divesting from high-carbon portfolios and investing in new technologies, such as hydrogen. Oil and gas firms have assets that could be useful in portions of a low-carbon energy system, such as cash and operational knowledge.  Leaders can define strategic decisions around carbon management, portfolio rebalancing, and capitalizing on core strengths.

Automotive

Sales and anticipated manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles has increased dramatically. By 2035, it is anticipated that new passenger-vehicle sales in the world’s three main automobile markets (China, the European Union, and the United States) will be nearly all electric.

To make zero-emission vehicles the norm, new supply chains and manufacturing capabilities, as well as related infrastructures like charging stations and hydrogen fueling stations, are required. Innovations in electrifying big vehicles and trucks, as well as developing self-driving cars, could also be beneficial.

Aviation and Shipping

Both industries are looking for comparable solutions, such as upgrading fleets and expanding the use of sustainable fuels. Airline industry developing hybrid-electric, battery-electric, and hydrogen-fuel-cell-electric choices for short-haul flights. Zero-emissions fuel technologies are ready for shipping, but they must be scaled up—and costs must be reduced.

Sustainable aviation fuels, which can be made from forestry waste and other forms of biomass, have the potential to lower net emissions by up to 70 to 100% when compared to fossil fuels. Implementing “green corridors,” trade routes between important port hubs that support zero-emission solutions, is one approach to speed up shipping decarbonization.

Steel & Cement

As demand for green steel grows, many large steelmakers have promised to go carbon neutral. Achieving net zero energy will necessitate large-scale investments in technology, operational advancements, new input materials, and a shift to renewable energy sources.

Some cement companies have optimized for energy efficiency using advanced analytics and other operational approaches, while others have experimented with emissions-reducing production methods. In the future, the sector may research alternate energy sources (such as biomass), carbon capture, and factory digitization.

Agriculture and Food

Promising approaches in animal feeding, soil carbon sequestration, and crop fertilisation are currently being developed or are in use. By 2030, the global market for cultured meat (those generated in bioreactors from animal cells) might be worth $25 billion.

Zero-emission farm equipment and machineries, such as tractors, harvesters, and dryers, are lagging behind electric vehicles in terms of acceptance, but cost reductions and supportive financing could increase adoption.

Forestry and Land

Today’s increase in CO2 emissions is mostly due to land clearing and deforestation. In this scenario, reaching net zero would include halting deforestation and intensifying efforts to restore forests and other natural ecosystems as a net sink of carbon.

Well-managed reforestation can be used to offset difficult-to-abate emissions in industries like cement and steel—and it can be done right now. Projects for forest protection and restoration could generate cash from the selling of carbon credits in carbon markets. These deep dives look at how to expedite Decarbonization in various industries, the barriers to zero emissions, and what these sectors can do to help the world meet its climate goals.

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