How energy-intensive sectors are tackling emissions

Aluminium industry ahead of the game
The aluminium sector is highly energy intensive, but is a small fish compared with other heavy industries and accounts for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, it was one of the first to develop a global approach to cutting emissions.

The International Aluminium Institute has had a voluntary agreement in place since the late 1990s. It collects data on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from 110 of the world’s 198 aluminium smelters, representing 61% of production. The information is provided in confidence, but each smelter can see how it compares with the other 109.

The industry has gone further than others in agreeing voluntary emission-reduction and energy-efficiency targets. It has pledged to cut emissions of perfluorocarbons (PFCs) per tonne of aluminium produced by 80% by 2010 and to cut smelting energy by 10% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

The industry met its PFC reduction target four years early and by 2007 had managed to cut smelting energy by 6%.

It is now considering tougher PFC reduction targets and is focusing on the 20% of smelters responsible for 50% of emissions. Between 2000 and 2005 the industry managed to cut absolute emissions by 14% while increasing production by 20%.

Steel catches up
According to the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI), steel-making accounts for 3-4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And around 90% of these emissions are produced by just nine countries, many of them outside the Kyoto tent.

With global demand for steel growing at 3-5% a year, there is an urgent need to rein in the sector’s emissions. In October the IISI launched the first phase of its proposed sectoral approach. This involved the development of a common method for measuring and collecting data on CO2 emissions from all of the steel plants in the major steel producing nations.

By April the IISI and the Chinese steel industry had agreed on a way to generate comparable CO2 data from different processes and set up a secure website to collect the data, which is presented in terms of tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel produced.

The industry wants to use the data to benchmark each plant and identify best practice and measures to cut emissions. This could help persuade governments take on commitments for the sector through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The industry wants an approach that is "intensity-based, verifiable and technology driven".

Cement industry on sustainability Drive
The cement sector is responsible for nearly 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions and production is expected to double in the next 40 years. Most of the increase will be in developing countries, which currently account for 80% of emissions. About 81% of production takes place in just 12 countries; China alone produces around half of the world’s cement.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has been working with the sector to develop a global approach to cutting emissions since 1999. Some 18 companies operating in 100 countries have signed up to its cement sustainability initiative, which addresses a range of environmental and social issues as well as CO2 emissions.

The initiative has concentrated on developing a common approach to measuring and reporting emissions and the use of biomass as a fuel. Signatories are not required to adopt emissions reduction targets, though many have voluntarily.

The industry’s goal is a mandatory sectoral agreement negotiated through the UNFCCC, with governments enforcing the agreed targets or actions. It also wants a strong element to support new technologies.

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