Industry Faces Climate Transition Challenge: Disruption from Rising Costs, Regulation to Accelerate in 2020s

Mon 17 Feb, 2020 - 9:37 AM ET

Mitigating emissions from the manufacture of cement, steel, ammonia fertilizers and ethylene is challenging and costly. Strong political pressure to do so could have uneven impacts on producers and assets. Around half of industrial carbon emissions relate to these activities, with feedstocks and fuel use the major sources of emissions. Capex and technology decisions can have substantial impacts on exposure to rising energy and carbon prices. Steel producers in China, the EU and Japan are particularly exposed given the prevalence of carbon-intensive basic oxygen furnaces, and costs of adaptation will be higher. Low-clinker cement yields the best carbon savings against costs, but will require regulatory and industry reform. Costs of capital will be higher for new technologies, but may be lowered by policy support. Changes in the marginal price of carbon are heavily influenced by the regulatory trajectory in operating locations. Operations in countries with a large share of renewables in the grid mix, such as Sweden, will find rising carbon costs less disruptive. In general, access to affordable low-carbon electricity and feedstocks, such as biomass, clinker alternatives and scrap metal, will influence costs. However, these resources are not evenly distributed globally.

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