By / March 19, 2021

Share of industrial activities in the total industrial CO2 emissions in the EU

Share of industrial activities in the total industrial CO2 emissions in the EU ETS (2018)

Share of industrial activities in the total industrial CO2 emissions in the EU ETS (2018)

Industry (without energy industries) is responsible for about 20 % of GHG emissions in the EU. Industrial emissions result from energy use and from industrial processes (process-related emissions). The literature identifies five principal ways to achieve emission reductions in industry:
1. Switching to low or zero carbon energy (renewable or nuclear electricity, sustainable biomass, clean or low-carbon hydrogen), reduction of energy use (energy efficiency), and use of waste energy;
2. Reduction of process-related emissions through new or modified production processes and alternative raw materials (for example in the steel, cement and chemical industries, as explained below);
3. Carbon capture for unavoidable emissions, with storage or use of the captured carbon (CCUS);
4. Reduction of demand for industrial materials and products, for example by improved material efficiency, substitution by low-emission products, smarter use of products and longer product lifetime;
5. Reduction of lifecycle emissions related to raw material input through increased recycling of industrial by-products and end-of-life products; use of bio-based materials.
Scenarios for the decarbonisation of industry generally build on electrification of industrial processes with low-carbon electricity, and on the use of clean or low-carbon hydrogen as an energy carrier and feedstock. Extensive electrification would require a massive expansion of electricity generation capacity and of the electric grid, while the clean hydrogen option would require an increased supply of renewable electricity as well as investment in hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure.
Digital technologies and services can support the decarbonisation of industry by helping to optimise production processes and design products to be more resource and energy-efficient. Moreover, they enable a more efficient use of industrial products in the ‘sharing economy’. However, the rapid growth in digital services and technologies can also result in an increase in GHG emissions from energy use for servers and digital devices and for the production of electronic equipment.
Apart from reducing its own emissions, industry has a key role in the low-carbon transition by providing materials and products to enable the low-carbon transition, for example electric vehicles and their components or materials for the insulation of buildings. The move towards a circular economy implies a transformation of industrial processes, for example by using carbon captured from steel and cement production as a feedstock for the chemical industry.


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