US Department of Energy | Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Industrial Decarbonization
This Industrial Decarbonization Liftoff report provides an overview of the pathways to decarbonization across eight industrial sectors of focus: chemicals, refining, iron and steel, food and beverage processing, pulp and paper, cement, aluminum, and glass.ii This Pathway to Commercial Liftoff report is part of a series of reports on industrial decarbonization, including deep dives on chemicals and refining and cement.
The goal of this family of pathway reports is to provide a guide to a private sector-led, industry-wide decarbonization effort that is deeper and faster than it would otherwise be and that directly benefits fenceline communities by emphasizing environmental justice and the creation of good jobs. Broader U.S. industry progress toward deep decarbonization is at risk of lagging other countries and domestic net-zero targets, although the journey is nuanced by sector. 3 U.S. industrials are a significant contributor to emissions, accounting for 23% of U.S. CO2e emissions (GWP100) in 2021 total, as well as other health-harming emissions, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and carbon monoxide (CO).4,5, iii Within U.S. industrials, this report studies the energy and process-related emissions from the eight industrial sectors of focus, which accounted for 14% of domestic emissions totaling ~880 MT CO2e in 2021. 6, iii, iv, v, vi Chemicals and refining as a subsector has the largest share of these emissions, making up over 60% of emissions from industrial sectors of focus and 7% of total U.S. CO2e emissions.
Reasons often cited for slow progress on the decarbonization of industrial emissions include: the immaturity and high cost of many decarbonization levers; unidentified or uncertain customer demand for low-carbon products; and, in some but not all sectors, reluctance among companies to be a first mover. If the U.S. transport and power sectors decarbonize in line with administration targets and limited abatement occurs in industrials, the share of emissions from all U.S. industrials could rise to 27% of total U.S. CO2e emissions by 2030