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IEA prepares for next industrial revolution – this time hold the carbon

World Cement,

At the launch of two new publications from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka spoke of the need for a ‘low-carbon industrial revolution’ if emissions reduction targets are to be achieved.

Industry must lead the way
The two publications, Energy technology transitions for industry – Strategies for the next industrial revolution and Sectoral approaches in electricity – Building bridges to a safe climate identify ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the key sectors, specifically identifying iron and steel, cement, paper, chemicals, petrochemicals, and aluminium, as CO2 intensive industries that must lead the way in this regard. “The task is huge and requires nothing short of a low-carbon industrial revolution,” Tanaka acknowledged. “Solutions exist but cannot be achieved overnight.”

A sectoral approach
The IEA highlights the necessity for a sectoral approach towards electricity. This is in agreement with the WBCSD CSI, which earlier this year published the CSI Modelling Results, showing the significant improvements that could be achieved by taking into account the characteristics of a sector’s structure and technologies, its requirements and limitations. The idea of a sectoral rather than national, regional or international approach means that the targets set can be more comprehensive and more specific, whilst not impeding economic growth.

International technology transfer
Also intrinsic to both the IEA and WBCSD proposals is international knowledge and technology transfer, so that everyone has access to the best available technology (BAT). According to the IEA, simply making sure that all CO2 intensive industries were employing BAT would lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions of between 20 and 30%. However, with global energy demand predicted to double by 2050, a 20 – 30% reduction will be insufficient. Further technological developments are necessary – the so-called ‘low-carbon industrial revolution’, as Mr Tanaka put it.

Programmes in place
The IEA’s new publications put forward a significant range of ideas to reduce emissions, and it is producing a technology roadmap for the cement industry in partnership with the WBCSD. Of course, the CSI already has a number of initiatives in place to monitor and reduce emissions, but it is continually working to increase its contribution in this regard. In the run up to Copenhagen, in particular, this drive for a sectoral approach is increasingly important.

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