Aluminum, cement, chemicals, steel, aviation, shipping, and heavy road transport account for 30 percent of global carbon emissions. These seven industrial sectors are some of the world’s largest energy consumers and most polluting industries. For transformation to occur, financial institutions seeking to move their portfolios toward net-zero carbon, i.e., green banks, need to partner with global corporations wanting to move in the same direction. The banks need reassurance that the corporations have decarbonization plans and that they relate to a meaningful standard. The common lack of embedded technical green expertise in both banking and heavy industry is frequently a barrier to moving forward.
These challenges can best be addressed collectively. The Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) is a recently formed global coalition looking to accelerate the decarbonization of heavy industry and transport, and to do it fast and at scale. Among the organizations supporting this initiative are the Rocky Mountain Institute, the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Global Maritime Forum. It currently gathers 400 companies, financial institutions, and policy innovators in the seven sectors listed above. The Partnership will build on nascent efforts to drive industry decarbonization by bringing together the fragmented ways each sector has used to date. By supercharging efforts over the next decade, the MPP has the potential to drive down emissions from some of the biggest emitting industries and hardest-to-abate ones.
The MPP will use a four-step process in each of the seven sectors:
- Convene a critical mass of progressive industry leaders to create a shared clean production vision.
- Develop a roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Create commitments to action in line with the roadmap milestones, thereby embedding the roadmap in corporate strategies.
- Build the metrics and standards for tracking progress and making disclosure transparent.
This year, the MPP is fast-tracking three sectors — shipping, steel, and aviation — for unveiling at the UN climate summit in November 2021. At the core of these efforts is the conviction that collective action can transform the global economy through bringing together policymakers, investors, and corporate leaders.
As the U.S. government plans major investment in the country’s crumbling roads and infrastructure, it can help drive this process by setting rigorous requirements for lower-carbon steel and cement. The ubiquity of these products translates into 500 pounds of steel for every person on earth and 9,000 pounds of concrete for each of us. Both of these industries can readily cut emissions by 20 percent, and there are promising paths for each of them to get to net-zero. For example, Boston Metal, an outfit spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is using electric currents to produce steel, a process without greenhouse-gas emissions.
Policies are already helping drive these changes. California is awarding contracts for state projects only to companies with the greenest of processes. New York and New Jersey are similarly incentivizing the awarding of infrastructure contracts.