Renewables at heart of reaching zero emissions in industry and transport

Renewables at heart of reaching zero emissions in industry and transport

Only seven industry and transport sectors will account for 38% of all CO2 emissions globally in 2050 unless there are significant changes in current approaches. Concerted action beyond planned policies can turn the page within the remaining 40 years and achieve zero emissions in heavy industry and transport by around 2060, a key requirement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C. The use of renewables will be central, accelerated through the rapid falls in technology and power costs.

Renewable energy solutions for each of these sectors are available and could play a much larger role than previously assumed, preliminary findings of IRENA’s new upcoming report Reaching Zero with Renewables show. Yet, for energy-intensive industrial sectors like iron and steel, chemicals, cement, and aluminum as well as long-distance aviation, shipping and road freight transport, the options are not yet commercially mature and ready for wide adoption.

Analysing emission reduction challenges and options for these so-called hard-to-decarbonise sectors, the upcoming report sends a strong message to policymakers and industry investors to avoid the distraction of partial measures and unerringly pursue a path that scales up the few options consistent with reaching the zero-emission goal.

IRENA’s first Global Renewables Outlook has shown how to transform the global energy system in line with the Paris Agreement, keeping the temperature rise well below 2°C. The upcoming report explores in detail how additional ‘deeper decarbonisation’ measures can go beyond to deliver zero-emission in key sectors by at the latest by 2060 – consistent with holding the line at 1.5°C.

Reaching this ultimate global climate goal of zero-emissions requires eliminating direct CO2 emissions from energy use and industrial processes alike. A key component will be the production of increasingly cost-effective renewable energy carriers including electricity, biofuels, hydrogen, and synthetic fuels to provide both energy and feedstocks.


Industry accounts for almost one-third of total global CO2 emissions with four industrial sectors producing over 21% of all current energy- and process-related emissions. Reaching zero however is achievable with a combination of measures – most of which utilise renewables for either energy or feedstocks.


Transport accounts for just under a quarter of total global CO2 emissions with 3 long-distance transport sectors producing over 11% of all current energy-and process-related emissions. Emissions can be reduced to zero with a combination of measures – in particular biofuels, hydrogen & synthetic fuels and, in some cases, electrification.

Read the preview of Reaching Zero with Renewables. 

Original source: IRENA