To reduce CO2 emissions, the materials industry needs to transition to a circular economy

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The transition to renewable energy is an essential part of the fight against climate change. But it will only address 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, to meet the target set in the Paris Agreement, the remaining 45% of emissions from industry, agriculture, and land-use need to be addressed as well. The materials industry, which comprises companies that manufacture raw materials such as steel, aluminium, cement, and chemicals, is responsible for a large share of these remaining emissions and therefore has a key role to play.

Globally, the production of cement accounts for 8% of CO2 emissions, in the case of ammonia each tonne produced emits 2.6 tonnes of CO2, and for steel the ratio is 1:2. Overall, the materials industry is responsible for 27% of global CO2 emissions (including energy-related emissions). To reduce these emissions, the materials industry faces a limited number of options which may involve the use of low-carbon energy[1], low-carbon production processes, carbon capture, or material recycling. However, most of these solutions are neither effective nor available at scale.

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