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Net zero: Decarbonisation

There will be winners and losers on the difficult path to decarbonisation

Companies already investing in
this opportunity

BlackRock ● Temasek ● Carbon Cure ● Brookfield Renewable ● Chevron ● Redwood Materials ● Legal & General ● Unilever ● Mitsubishi Corp


annual worldwide clean energy investment required by 2030 to reach net zero emissions by 2050

Everyone agrees decarbonisation needs to happen; the disagreements arise on how to do it. Countries across Europe have announced their intention to become carbon neutral over the coming decades. Norway has targets for 2030, while the UK and France, have goals that extend to 2050. Backing the right technologies will be crucial to meeting these ambitious targets while retaining a competitive position over the years to come.

Five promising use cases in

Net zero: Decarbonisation

What is the fastest way to decarbonise?

The fastest way to decarbonise is to immediately cease all company activities that generate carbon emissions. But for most companies this is not an option. So, what can be done?

Energy efficiency and conservation measures can help to decarbonise, as can the production of low carbon electricity.  Clearly, the path to decarbonisation will require firms to make drastic changes. In view of this, the fastest way to decarbonise is to align stakeholders’ incentives around decarbonisation goals and identify ways to strengthen businesses through decarbonisation. But to set ambitious decarbonisation goals, you must first understand the amount of carbon you’re producing, along with the amount of carbon produced by your suppliers. And this is currently a challenge.

Use Case

How can companies measure their carbon emissions?

Companies can calculate their carbon emissions using the framework developed by the GHG protocol, which categorises emissions in terms of scopes 1,2 and 3. Scope 1 emissions are all direct GHG emissions, scope 2 are indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam, and scope 3 are indirect emissions. This could be the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, for example. While scope 1 and 2 are often relatively easy to calculate, scope 3 can be challenging as it requires a high degree of visibility into your supply chain.


of global emissions attributable to cement and concrete


Cost for aviation industry to reach net zero emissions


of UK businesses have a net-zero strategy

How can technology help you decarbonise?

There are many decarbonisation technologies available. But arguably, to decarbonise, firms need better visibility into what their carbon emissions are. And this is where technology can play a role. Most emissions measurement, monitoring and reporting is currently done using estimates, which means they're frequently inaccurate. New technologies are emerging that offer the chance to measure carbon emissions more accurately. Sensor technology has both advanced in leaps and bounds and become more affordable. Vaisala and Picarro, for example, offer in situ IoT-enabled sensors that can be used for greenhouse gas monitoring.

What is the decarbonisation process?

The decarbonisation process will be different for every sector and company. Many firms will have to substitute existing materials for new ones as part of the process. For concrete producers, for example, novel materials are emerging that attempt to mitigate the emissions inherent in the production of cement. At the same time, producers are exploring carbon capture at site, trapping emissions for storage underground. The key benefits of carbon capture and storage are that the greenhouse gas emissions reductions possible are very high compared to other decarbonisation technologies. Carbon mineralisation is also attracting increasing interest.

How could mineralisation support the decarbonisation process?

Carbon mineralisation is a chemical reaction by which carbon dioxide becomes a solid mineral, such as a carbonate. Mineralisation can convert large volumes of carbon dioxide into solid products through chemical reactions with naturally stable minerals for long-term storage. This approach not only helps to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere but also provides an opportunity to harness the emissions for beneficial use.

The biggest advantage of carbon mineralisation from an environmental perspective is that the carbon cannot escape back to the atmosphere. This approach is interesting for any polluting company anywhere. But companies looking to explore mineralisation as a decabonisation approach must consider the purity of the carbon dioxide produced, what kind of facilities are nearby or how much it would cost to build them, and how much investment is required to build out infrastructure to transport carbon to processing.

Can companies make money from the decarbonisation process?

One of the quickest ways to decarbonise is to build a business strategy around decarbonisation. This means finding a way to commercialise decarbonisation. Mineralisation offers such as opportunity: the chance to turn carbon dioxide generated from power generation or industrial processes into valuable materials. For example, mineralisation can be used to generate construction aggregates, building materials, and even carbon-negative concrete. This offers potentially interesting opportunities to transform emissions into marketable products.