By Rebecca Duff
The “Path to 2060: Decarbonizing the Industrial Sector” report, developed by Professor Mike Lenox and Senior Researcher Becky Duff at Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, suggests a long road ahead for a clean-tech solution to minimizing carbon emissions by the world’s industrials. Even so, this sector — the third largest source of greenhouse gases — will be critical in the quest to slow climate change.
According to the authors, the industrial sector represents 21 percent of global carbon emissions. Manufacturing requires significant amounts of thermal energy, and today, most of that energy is supplied by fossil fuels. The raw materials that go into industrial products also contribute to their carbon footprint. In fact, according to another recent study, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions grew by 3.4 percent in 2018, which is the second largest jump in more than 20 years. The biggest culprit — industrial manufacturing.
The “Path to 2060” report authors note that identifying a short list of solutions that can be deployed across the many different types of manufacturing processes within this sector will be a challenge. The analysis looks at the three most carbon-intensive sectors: steel, cement and petrochemicals. Because of intense market competition in those sectors, any low-carbon solution must offer either increased productivity or a low cost per widget to be widely adopted. On the other hand, many of these industries haven’t witnessed significant, game-changing innovation for decades and are ripe for new, disruptive technologies.
The report is the third in UVA Darden’s ongoing “Path to 2060” series, which is part of the Business Innovation and Climate Change Initiative, a multiyear research program of Darden’s Batten Institute. Previous reports in the “Path to 2060” series have addressed the automobile and electric utility industries.
About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.