To meet climate goals with current energy pathways, the International Energy Forum (IEF) believes Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS) must be swiftly deployed and on a much broader scale, Secretary General Joseph McMonigle said.
Carbon Capture Use and Storage is an umbrella term for a range of technologies which remove carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and then either use the carbon in other processes or store it in geological structures.
"The time is now to accelerate carbon management including those technologies under Carbon Capture Use and Storage, which will enable countries to achieve their climate goals faster and without compromising energy security or affordable access," said Mr McMonigle. "The world needs to focus on CCUS right now."
Mr McMonigle was speaking at the Vienna Energy Forum 2021 during a plenary session on industry cooperation in advancing climate goals. The forum was a multi-sector and inter-disciplinary dialogue on sustainable energy, billed as "Where Action Meets Ambition", with a focus on inclusive development and increasing productive capacities within industries such as steel, chemicals and cement.
Dan Dorner, Head, Clean Energy Ministerial Secretariat, said: "For too long, the role of heavy industry [in climate change] has been seen as something that is too hard to do or something not to be done right now. Attitudes and actions are changing and accelerating very, very quickly as we need to be able to respond and to build on that."
Anthony Hobley, Co-Executive Director, Mission Possible Platform, and Executive Fellow, World Economic Forum, said the opportunity for disruption will only be realized if companies work together to capitalize on their changing roles during the energy transition. For example, he noted that oil and gas companies may find themselves transitioning to chemical companies as businesses adapt.
"What is clear is this intersection between the industry transformation and the energy transition is critical," said Mr Hobley. "Both sides need to understand each other and the roadmaps they’re developing and keep pace with the change."
Mr Hobley said the ways to accelerate industry transition include speeding up innovation and broadening adoption of clean energy solutions such as CCUS; doubling down on investments in technology and infrastructure that declined during the COVID-19 pandemic; and utilizing more collective partnerships between government and businesses to finance and support costlier, longer-term innovation.
Much of the progress will come as a result of investments in technological innovation, particularly digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and digital processes like blockchain, delegates said.
"There are two opportunities in the digital space," said Cate Hight, MPP at the Rocky Mountain Institute. "Market creation, creating demand, and then the twin to that is accountability. How can consumers believe the product they’re purchasing with a green label on it is actually having an impact on the climate?"
For Christiane Brunner, Corporate Affairs at Verbund, the goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050 requires broad industry collaboration that recognizes carbon management technologies will need to be developed – even invented – to meet emissions goals today and into the future.
"When we look at 2050, 50 percent of the technologies are available now, the rest are not competitive or still need to be developed," said Ms Brunner. "What is sometimes missing is the short-term milestones and determining what we actually need to do now as corporate businesses."
Dirk Fransaer, Managing Director, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), suggested digital technology could play an important role in accelerating the energy transition in and across industry clusters, and that should be a priority for governments and industries. "The trend for more digitalisation in all sectors … is clearly there and clearly evident."
Even as industries focus on developing new technologies, Dinah McLeod, Chief Executive, Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), noted that it will be crucial to have supportive government policies to get to net zero for its members. For example, she noted that concrete is already 100 percent recyclable, and government policies need to recognize that option for the construction industry.