Heavy industries must move together to reach net zero

Heavy industries must move together to reach net zero

Leaders from across the aluminium value chain say coordination is needed with the public sector and across industries to scale low-carbon technology and pool investment.

An expert panel of aluminium producers, standard setters, trade organisations, and customers has said action must be coordinated across heavy industries to ensure the world achieves net zero emissions by 2050. The panel, which included Ramon Arratia, Vice-President of Ball Corporation, and Pernelle Nunez, Deputy Secretary General of the International Aluminium Institute, underlined the importance of aluminium to green products—from electric cars to recyclable cans. They warned, however, that major technological development and half a trillion dollars of investment are needed to transform the industry.

The panel was convened by En+ Group in collaboration with the Russian delegation to COP26. Alongside Mr Arratia and Ms Nunez, the panel featured Renée van Heusden, Project Lead for Aluminium and Steel at the World Economic Forum, Chris Bayliss, Director of Standards at the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, Irina Bakhtina, Chief Sustainability Officer at RUSAL, and Sergey Chestnoy, Official Representative of RUSAL for External Affairs, Chairman of the ICC Russia Commission on Climate Change Economics and Sustainable Development, and representative for the Climate Partnership of Russia at COP26.

Currently, aluminium accounts for 2% of global emissions and will need to produce 20 times less carbon dioxide to align with efforts to keep global warming below 1.5°C. With energy accounting for two-thirds of aluminium emissions, the panel emphasised the importance of transitioning to renewables. However, they also highlighted the need to scale up technologies such as inert anode production, carbon capture, hydrogen, and mechanical vapour compression. Many of these technologies have applications beyond aluminium, with the panellists urging industry leaders to collaborate on a shared path to net zero. They also called on governments to set green procurement standards and work with private investors to bring breakthrough technologies to scale.

In addition to technological development, the panel underlined the importance of plugging low-carbon primary aluminium into a circular economy, with Mr Arratia arguing 95% recycling rates can be realised by 2030 through initiatives like deposit return schemes.

In addition to technological development, the panel underlined the importance of plugging low-carbon primary aluminium into a circular economy, with Mr Arratia arguing 95% recycling rates can be realised by 2030 through initiatives like deposit return schemes.

Yulia Chekunaeva, Director, Capital Markets, at En+ Group, said: “The low-carbon economy will be built with aluminium. However, this transition will be self-defeating unless the metal matches our green ambitions. The aluminium industry needs rapid and radical transformation to keep in step with net zero goals, requiring breakthrough technologies and large-scale investment.

Fortunately, we need not act alone. Many of the solutions that work for aluminium are essential to other hard to abate industries. It is time for us to think beyond our silos, reach out to governments, civil society, and other sectors, and together build a low-carbon future that works for us all.”

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