NIES: Material Shortfall Threatens Emission Targets

The study by National Institute for Environmental Studies and the University of Cambridge reveals a shortfall in deploying CO2-


The study by National Institute for Environmental Studies and the University of Cambridge reveals a shortfall in deploying CO2-reduction infrastructure for steel and cement industries. Anticipated capture and storage of 200 million metric tons by 2021 drastically fell to 1 million, raising doubts about meeting the 2,000 million metric tons target by 2050. Changes in material usage are vital for Paris Agreement goals.



Steel and cement, essential but carbon-intensive materials, face scrutiny due to their significant emissions. Efforts to attain zero-emission goals under the Paris Agreement hinge on large-scale infrastructure for CO2 transport and storage, renewable electricity, and green hydrogen.

However, a study by the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan, and the University of Cambridge points to a critical inadequacy in deploying this essential infrastructure. Led by Dr. Takuma Watari, the study highlights a stark disparity between predicted and actual infrastructure implementation.

The International Energy Agency's (IEA) 2010 projections suggested capturing and storing nearly 200 million metric tons of CO2 from steel and cement by 2021. Yet, the reality proved startlingly different, with only 1 million metric tons achieved, casting doubt on meeting the IEA's 2050 target of 2,000 million metric tons. Published in Nature Communications, this research challenges existing scenarios.

Dr. Watari emphasizes the risk of relying solely on new infrastructure to resolve emissions, given the urgency and scale of the challenge. The study projects an insufficiency in supplying steel and cement aligned with Paris Agreement carbon budgets due to historical trends and current construction plans.

The solution, the study asserts, demands a shift in design, usage, and disposal methods in the construction and manufacturing sectors. To comply with Paris-aligned budgets, a radical reduction of 60% in construction material use and 40% in manufacturing is crucial.

While current feasible supplies seem insufficient, they align with meeting the basic needs of a growing global population. However, the challenge lies in fair distribution. Dr. Watari advocates for high-income countries to shoulder more responsibility due to their extensive material stocks.



The study reveals a significant gap in deploying crucial infrastructure for curbing steel and cement industry emissions, casting doubts on meeting Paris Agreement targets. Anticipated CO2 capture and storage fell drastically short of projections, emphasizing the need to reconsider material usage. Drastic shifts in design, usage, and disposal are crucial to meet carbon budgets. Despite present limitations, meeting global basic needs with reduced material use is feasible. The challenge now lies in equitable distribution and heightened responsibility, particularly among high-income nations.

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