Concrete, steel and plastics: Paths to a greener industrial sector

Climate Now

13-06-2022 • 37 mins

Each year, we produce about 30 billion tonnes of concrete globally. That’s nearly 10,000 pounds, or more than 2 entire cars-worth of concrete, per person, per year.  We produce enough steel to build more than 2700 Empire State Buildings annually.  We produce more than 100 pounds of plastic per person, each year. And with all of this material production, we also produce a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearly one-third of global GHG emissions come from industry, with steel, concrete, and chemical manufacturing (i.e. plastics) being the largest contributors. These industries are tough to decarbonize because they require performing chemical reactions at high temperatures, not easily achieved through electrification, and because they emit greenhouse gasses as a by-product.

Climate Now sat down with Dr. Rebecca Dell of the ClimateWorks Foundation, the largest philanthropic program in the world dedicated to reducing and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions that come from the material economy. Dr. Dell shares how these industries are approaching decarbonization, and what kind of technological, policy and market innovations will be needed to reduce the industrial carbon footprint.

01:32 - Rebecca Dell's background
04:17 - ClimateWorks
04:30 - What is the "industrial sector" in the climate context?
05:48 - Decarbonizing petrochemicals (i.e. plastics)
17:51 - Decarbonizing concrete and cement
30:04 - Decarbonizing steel

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