Tracking Industry

More efforts needed
Tracking industry
In this report

Direct industrial CO2 emissions, including process emissions, rose 0.3% to reach 8.5 GtCO2 in 2017 (24% of global emissions), a rebound from the 1.5% annual decline during 2014‑16. To align with the SDS, emissions must peak prior to 2025 and decline to 8.3 GtCO2 by 2030 – despite expected industrial production growth. Increasing energy efficiency, the uptake of renewable fuels, and research and deployment of low-carbon process routes – such as CCUS and hydrogen-based production – are all critical. Governments can accelerate progress by providing innovation funding and adopting mandatory CO2 emissions reduction and energy efficiency policies.

Industry direct CO2 emissions in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030

Tracking progress

Demand for industrial products has grown considerably in recent years, along with energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Direct industrial CO2 emissions1 rose 0.3% to reach 8.5 GtCO2 in 2017.

Some modest improvements have been made in industrial productivity and in renewable heat uptake, and some positive policy and innovation steps have also been taken. Nonetheless, progress is far too slow. Accelerated efforts on all fronts will be needed to get industry on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS).

The industry sector accounted for 37% (156 EJ) of total global final energy use in 2017. This represents a 1% annual increase in energy consumption since 2010, with 1.7% growth in 2017 following much slower growth of 0.1% the previous year.

Growth in energy consumption has been driven largely by an ongoing long-term trend of rising production in energy-intensive industry subsectors (i.e. chemicals, iron and steel, cement, pulp and paper and aluminium).

India saw the highest rate of industrial energy consumption growth in 2010‑17 (3.9% annual growth), while China had the largest absolute increase, accounting for 60% of the total net increase. Meanwhile, industrial energy use declined slightly in Europe and the Americas.

The industry sector energy mix has remained relatively unchanged overall since 2010. While solar thermal and geothermal final energy use expanded the most quickly, more than doubling from 2010 to 2017, they accounted for less than 0.05% of total final industrial energy use in 2017.

The fossil fuel contribution to the energy mix decreased from 73% to 70%, while electricity rose from 18% to 21%, largely owing to an increasing electricity share in non-energy-intensive industry.

In the SDS, growth in energy use needs to be limited to 0.8% per year to 2030, despite expected growth in production.

Energy mix changes – particularly a shift away from coal and towards natural gas, bioenergy and electricity – contributes to a fall in the CO2 emissions intensity of industrial energy use.

While solar thermal and geothermal energy continue to expand, they cannot provide high enough temperatures for medium- and high-temperature heat processes, and therefore are unable to replace a large portion of process heat.

Final energy consumption and fuel shares in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2010-2030


Industrial energy productivity (industrial value added per unit of energy used) has risen in most regions since 2000.

Key contributors to the increase are the deployment of state-of-the-art technologies, operational adjustments leading to more efficient equipment use, and a structural shift away from energy-intensive industry (e.g. steel and cement) and towards a larger share of added value from higher value-added sectors (e.g. automotive manufacturing, food and beverages, and textiles).

Historically, the greatest improvements in energy productivity have been in developed countries, which tend to focus on higher-value industrial products, while countries in which industrialisation is more recent have shown relatively little progress.

Middle Eastern industrial productivity has declined as a result of strong development in energy-intensive manufacturing subsectors between 2004 and 2010, particularly in the cement subsector, which offset the deployment of best available technologies in several expanding industries.

In China, industrial productivity changed very little or even fell between 2000 and 2006, but has since risen. Improvements resulted from China starting to diversify industrial activities away from energy-intensive steel and cement production and towards high-value industries such as machinery and chemicals. Implementation of mandatory energy efficiency policies (the Top 1000 and Top 10 000 programmes) also helped.

Energy productivity is closely connected with energy efficiency. In 2018, investment in industrial energy efficiency was less than USD 40 billion. Although total investment in industrial energy efficiency has been relatively constant since 2015, the market composition has shifted: China represented 37% of the total in 2018 (up from a quarter in 2015), whereas North America’s share dropped from 17% in 2015 to below one tenth in 2018.

At just over 45%, the heavy industry share of total global industrial energy efficiency investment is lower than in 2015, when it was nearly half. This largely reflects the continuing slowdown in construction of new energy-intensive industrial facilities in China, which is the result of ongoing structural change in the Chinese economy as well as in Europe and North America.

In the Asia Pacific region, India is an emerging source of industrial energy efficiency investment, with an increase of nearly 5%. Modernisation of industrial facilities, coupled with the strong government mandates of the Perform, Achieve, Trade (PAT) Scheme, stimulated higher levels of investment.

Despite these positive developments, this indicator is off track. Global industrial productivity needs to increase 2.3% per year to 2030 to get on track with the SDS – an acceleration from the 1.9% annual growth of 2010‑17.

Industry energy productivity by region in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Over 2010-18, renewable heat consumption increased 2% per year on average, with renewables meeting just under 10% (10 EJ) of industrial energy demand for heat in 2018.

This falls short of the 3% per year increase needed to meet the SDS trajectory by 2030, when renewables satisfy 13% (15 EJ) of industrial heat demand.

The majority (90%) of renewable heat currently consumed in industry comes from bioenergy (including bioenergy used for district heating), equalling 8.5% of industry energy demand for heat. 

While bioenergy is used considerably in pulp and paper production (30% of energy use) and more modestly in cement (5% of energy use), its use is very limited in other energy-intensive industries. Most consumption occurs in industries that produce biomass wastes and residues on site, such as in the pulp and paper subsector and in food and tobacco.

To increase its use in other subsectors, biomass fuel supply chains that are competitive with fossil fuels need to be established. This can be challenging, however, because policy support for renewables in industry and carbon pricing mechanisms are not widespread.

The second-largest share (nearly 10%) of renewable heat used in industry comes from renewable electricity. This share is expanding as renewables figure increasingly in national electricity generation portfolios and as more industrial processes become electrified.

While renewable electricity for heat expands under the SDS, technical challenges and the high costs of using electricity directly for high-temperature heat are likely to limit its penetration.

The use of solar thermal energy for industrial processes has also been expanding, especially for processes that require low-temperature heat (below 100°C). These processes include drying, bleaching, cooking and pasteurisation in industries such as textiles and food.

In energy terms, however, the contribution of solar thermal remains very small and several barriers constrain its uptake: a lack of policy incentives, low awareness of its potential, and challenges integrating it with industrial energy demand.

Renewable heat in industry in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2010-2030


Demand for materials is a major determinant of total energy consumption and CO2 emissions in industry subsectors.

Material demand has historically been closely linked with both population and economic development: as economies develop, urbanise, consume more goods and build up their infrastructure, material demand per capita tends to increase considerably. Once industrialised, an economy’s material demand may level off and perhaps even begin to decline.

Decoupling material demand from economic and population growth can help curb growth in energy consumption and CO2 emissions from material production.

In the past couple of decades, global demand growth for key energy-intensive materials has exceeded population growth and - for many materials – GDP growth. Growth since 2000 has been particularly high, largely driven by rapid economic development in China.

Estimates suggest, however, that global demand levelled off in the past two to three years (at least temporarily) for a number of materials, particularly cement and to some degree steel and aluminium, while GDP and population continue to grow. This levelling-off is largely the result of saturation of material demand in China.

While it may be a first step towards decoupling global material demand from economic and population growth, strong growth in other emerging economies may drive up material demand again in the coming years.

By reducing material demand growth, ambitious pursuit of material efficiency strategies could help reduce some of the deployment needs for other CO2 emissions mitigation options that would normally be required to achieve the SDS emissions reduction.

For instance, pushing material efficiency to its practical but achievable limit in a Material Efficiency variant (MEF) scenario causes demand for steel in 2030 to be more than 15% lower than in the reference New Policies Scenario (NPS), and cement demand is nearly 10% lower.

Conversely, demand for aluminium is 5% higher, as it is used for vehicle lightweighting to reduce use-phase emissions.

Opportunities for material efficiency

Opportunities for material efficiency exist at each stage of any supply value chain. These include:

  • vehicle lightweighting and improved building design (product design and fabrication)
  • extending building lifetimes through repair and refurbishment and reducing vehicle demand through mode-shifting (use-phase),
  • increased metal manufacturing yields (material production stage)
  • reuse (end-of-life).

Additionally, rather than by reducing final material demand, increased end-of-life recycling can reduce emissions by enabling greater uptake of lower-emitting secondary production methods.

Demand for materials, 1990-2017


In 2017, mandatory policy-driven energy efficiency targets and standards covered less than 25% of total industrial energy use in most regions, with no major increases in coverage relative to the previous year.

While a number of countries have minimum energy performance standards for electric motors, few have mandatory overall performance targets for industrial firms and sectors.

China and India are some of the strongest performers on policy coverage, having put in place mandatory targets for energy savings in industry sectors several years ago that still apply today.

In China, the 100, 1 000, 10 000 Programme has been included as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016‑20), and supersedes the previous Top 10 000 Programme, a component of its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011‑15). In India, the PAT Scheme began in 2012; as its second cycle (2016‑19) is coming to an end, the third is beginning.

To get on track with the SDS, it will be important to extend mandatory policy coverage to a larger portion of industrial energy use, and in more regions. Just as important is to ensure that the strength of requirements of both new and existing policies is ambitious enough.

To achieve high enough emissions reductions, policies need to cover not only energy efficiency and process optimisation, but also other factors that influence industrial emissions such as process emissions and technological shifts. Policies targeting overall CO2 emissions reductions (e.g. a multi-sector or economy-wide emission trading system [ETS]) are therefore important.

China, for example, launched its ETS platform in December 2017. The first steps are being taken to set up the required administrative infrastructure and mock allowance trading, with real spot trading expected to begin in 2020.

The initial phase will cover only the power sector rather than the several industry subsectors originally planned, apparently due to difficulties in collecting robust industrial statistics. Improving data collection and including industry sectors in the scheme would help to achieve emissions reduction objectives.


Voluntary energy efficiency policies also exist in many regions: for instance, the number of ISO 50001 certifications for industrial energy management systems reached at least 21 500 in 2017, according to a voluntary survey by the ISO (ISO, 2019).

The increase in certifications in 2017 was considerably lower than over the previous five years, however. Unless the growth trends of pre-2017 recover, the world may fail to achieve the Clean Energy Ministerial Energy Management Campaign’s target of 50 001 industrial operations with ISO 50001 certification by 2020.

Furthermore, about 80% of the uptake so far has been in Europe, which accounted for just 12% of global final industrial energy use in 2017, so uptake needs to accelerate in other regions.

Other energy management system standards may have higher uptake in specific regions.

For example, in 2016‑17, the number of certifications under China’s GB/T 23331 standard increased by 25% (from 2 036 to 2 552) (CNCA, 2018). Improved data on these various standards, including data on resulting energy and emissions reductions, would be useful to better analyse their impact.

ISO 50001 energy management system certifications by region, 2011-2017


Two main approaches are being pursued to develop innovative low-carbon industrial processes:

  • Directly avoiding CO2 emissions by relying on renewable electricity (directly or through electrolytic hydrogen), bioenergy or alternative raw materials
  • Reducing CO2 emissions by minimising process energy, using fossil fuels but integrating CCUS

Finding value-enhancing uses for industrial by-products is another area of innovation, in which synergies are sought among different industrial activities, including through CCUS.

A number of key innovation efforts are under way around the world, including the following:

  • In February 2019, the European Commission announced EUR 10 billion in funding for the demonstration of low-carbon technologies. The Innovation Fund, initially proposed in 2015 and largely funded by revenue from the EU ETS, will support large-scale demonstrations of low-carbon technologies and processes in energy-intensive industries, CCUS, renewable energy and energy storage. The first call for proposals will be in 2020, with subsequent calls until 2030.
  • Mission Innovation is a global initiative of 23 countries and the European Commission to accelerate global clean energy innovation. Four of the seven Innovation Challenges launched in 2016 are relevant to the industry sector: carbon capture, clean energy materials, sustainable biofuels and converting sunlight. In 2018, an eighth Innovation Challenge was launched on renewable and clean hydrogen, also relevant to industry.
  • In China, industry, the government and academia joined forces in 2016 to explore the technical and economic feasibility of integrating carbon capture into steel production. In the same year, the world’s first fully commercial carbon capture and use project came into operation in the United Arab Emirates, on a direct reduced iron plant. In Europe, several innovations in low-carbon steelmaking processes (including process for direct carbon avoidance and carbon capture) aim to reach commercial-scale demonstration between 2022 and 2035.
  • In 2018 the cement industry announced plans to invest in demonstrations of oxy-fuel capture technologies in two commercial-scale cement kilns in Europe (HeidelbergCement’s Colleferro plant in Italy and LafargeHolcim’s Retznei plant in Austria), and is seeking public funds for the project.

While innovation efforts of recent years are promising, accelerated action will be needed to develop and deploy technologies for medium- to long-term CO2 emissions reductions in industry.

Deployment of best available technologies will be important to raise industry energy efficiency.

Adoption of waste heat/gas recovery and cogeneration could be expanded in sub-sectors such as iron and steel and pulp and paper. Developing plant-level action plans and sharing of best practices may improve uptake of best available technologies.

Governments can also accelerate uptake by adopting energy efficiency targets and regulations.

Furthermore, ensuring efficient equipment operation and maintenance will help guarantee optimal energy performance. This can be reinforced by implementing energy management systems.

Shifting increasingly to secondary production methods – i.e. using recycled inputs – will be important to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions for metals, chemical products (including plastics) and paper.

Governments and industries can work together to improve collection avenues for recycled products and increase co‑operation among stakeholders involved in production and end-of-life stages of the value chain. Government-mandated recycling requirements, waste disposal fees, recycled content requirements and extended producer responsibility can also help increase recycling.

Reducing overall demand through material efficiency strategies at all stages of the value chain can avoid CO2 emissions from industrial production.

Industry can help by:

  • Considering lifecycle emissions when designing products and construction projects
  • Reducing waste during manufacturing and construction
  • Developing sharing and circular economy-based business models

Policies that favour durability and refurbishing of buildings over demolition will be pivotal to reduce demand for bulk materials. Governments can also encourage material efficiency by moving from use-phase to life-cycle-based CO2 emissions regulations, and from prescriptive to performance-based design standards.

Industries should also take advantage of opportunities for industrial symbiosis – including using the waste or by-products from one process to produce another product of value – to help close the material loop, reduce energy use and reduce emissions in the case of carbon capture and utilisation.

Examples include using steel blast-furnace slag in cement production, carbon from steel waste gases to produce chemicals and fuels, and waste from other industries as alternative fuels for cement production. Industrial symbiosis can also involve sharing energy utilities, infrastructure and services. Policy support can facilitate these endeavours.

The share of renewables in industry can be increased by several means: first, by ensuring that biomass waste and residues are used at as high an efficiency as possible by industries that have access to them.

Examples include shifting to higher-efficiency co‑generation technologies in the pulp and paper and sugar and ethanol industries.

The cement industry offers scope to use greater amounts of low-value biomass residues and municipal solid waste to offset thermal demand currently met by coal.

Municipal solid waste consumption especially can be encouraged by increasing refuse-derived fuel availability through best-practice waste management – i.e. highly efficient waste sorting and collection, combined with mechanisms that place a cost on landfill disposal such as landfill taxation.

With increasing shares of renewables in national electricity generation portfolios, the electrification of industrial processes, when possible, can also raise renewable energy consumption. In countries with high amounts of direct irradiation, energy service company (ESCO) business models could boost solar thermal use in industry.

Decarbonising current industrial processes is challenging for a number of reasons.

For example, emissions resulting from chemical reactions during industrial processes (process emissions) cannot be mitigated by greater energy efficiency and fuel switching alone. The high-temperature heat required in many industrial processes makes it difficult to switch completely from fossil fuel-based energy to low-carbon electricity and fuels.

Innovation over the next decade will therefore be critical to develop and reduce the costs of industrial processes and technologies that could enable substantial emissions cuts post-2030, including, for example, hydrogen-based production methods and CCUS.

Increased support for RD&D is needed from governments and financial investors, particularly to advance the large-scale demonstration and deployment of technologies that have already shown promise.

Private-public partnerships can help, as can green public procurement, which generates early demand and can enable producers to gain experience and bring down costs. Government co‑ordination of stakeholder efforts can also direct focus to priority areas and avoid overlap.

It will also be important to begin planning and developing infrastructure for eventual deployment of innovative processes, such as CCUS pipeline networks to transport CO2 for use or storage, and electricity transmission grids to enable low-carbon hydrogen production. Gaining social acceptance for building this infrastructure, particularly CO2 transport and storage facilities, will also be necessary.

Governments can promote CO2 emissions reduction efforts by adopting mandatory CO2 emissions reduction policies, such as a gradually increasing carbon price or tradeable industry performance standards that require average CO2 intensity for production of each key material to decline across the economy and permit regulated entities to trade compliance credits.

Adopting these policies at lower stringencies within the next three to five years would provide an early market signal, enabling industry to prepare and adapt as stringency increases over time. It can also help reduce the costs of low-carbon production methods, softening the impact on materials prices in the long term.

Complementary measures may be useful in the short to medium term, such as differentiated market requirements, that is, a government-mandated minimum proportion of low carbon materials in targeted products.

Ideally, mandatory policies would be applied globally at similar strengths. Since a number of industrial products are traded extensively internationally, measures may be needed to help ensure the competitiveness of domestic industries and prevent carbon leakage if the strength of policy efforts differs from one region to another.

Examples include time-limited measures to ease transition, such as declining free allocation of permits, or novel measures to apply emissions regulations on the lifecycle emissions of end-products rather than directly on materials production.

The latter could potentially be used to apply border carbon adjustments, provided that they are implemented in line with international trade rules. For instance, regulating vehicle manufacturing plants to reduce vehicle lifecycle emissions could raise the competitiveness of lower-emissions steel and aluminium.

Governments can extend the reach of their efforts by partaking in multilateral forums to facilitate low-carbon technology transfer and to encourage other countries to also adopt mandatory CO2 emissions policies.

Improving collection, transparency and accessibility of energy performance and CO2 emissions statistics on industry would facilitate research, regulatory and monitoring efforts.

Industry participation and government co‑ordination are both important to improve data collection and reporting. Government efforts are also needed to clarify avenues for greater data sharing in a way that will not put industry at risk of breaching compliance with competition laws.

Industry technologies

None of the industry subsectors are on track with the SDS, and CCUS is well off-track.

While energy efficiency has improved, growing production outweighs much of this gain. A number of projects to develop innovative industrial processes have been launched, but overall progress in innovation is well short of what is needed to enable deep CO2 emissions reductions.

Considerably greater decarbonisation efforts are required in all subsectors to get industry onto the SDS pathway.

Direct CO2 emissions from primary chemical production in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2015-2030



Direct CO2 emissions from the chemical and petrochemical subsector reached 1.25 Gt in 2017, a 2% increase from the previous year. In the SDS, despite continued strong growth in demand, the sector's emissions increase at a much more modest rate before peaking around 2025 and returning to today's level by 2030. To get on track, efforts from government and industry are needed to address CO2 emissions from chemical production – such as the use of electrolytic hydrogen as a feedstock or the application of CCUS – as well as from the use and disposal of chemical products.

Direct CO2 intensity in iron and steel, 2000-2017


Iron and steel

In 2017, the CO2 intensity of crude steel fell by 1.8%, following an average annual decline of 1.4% from 2010 to 2016. To align with the SDS, however, the CO2 intensity of crude steel needs to fall by 1.9% annually between 2017 and 2030. This decrease is especially important if global steel production continues to grow – as it did in 2017 with an exceptional 4% increase. Government efforts are needed to improve steel scrap collection and sorting avenues, provide RD&D funding for low-carbon process routes such as production with electrolytic hydrogen or CCUS, and adopt mandatory CO2 emissions reduction policies.

Direct CO2 intensity of cement in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2014-2030



From 2014 to 2017, the direct CO2 intensity of cement production increased 0.3% per year. To get on track with the SDS, a 0.7% annual decline is necessary to 2030. More focus is needed in a number of key areas: reducing the clinker-to-cement ratio (including through greater uptake of blended cements), deploying innovative technologies (including CCUS) and increasing uptake of alternative fuels. Governments can stimulate investment and innovation through RD&D funding and by adopting mandatory CO2 emissions reduction policies.

Final energy demand in pulp and paper in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Pulp and paper

Final energy use in pulp and paper grew by 1.8% in 2017, while paper and paperboard output increased 2.3%. For comparison, during 2000‑16 energy use grew 0.1% per year on average, while production expanded 1.4% per year. In the SDS, energy use needs to decline 0.4% per year to 2030, with paper and paperboard production increasing 0.9% annually. This will require greater recycling, as recycled production requires considerably less energy. Using a higher share of bioenergy and adopting waste heat recovery technologies will also be important.

Direct CO2 intensity of aluminium production, 2000-2017



The CO2 intensity of aluminium production remained flat in 2017, as it has since 2014. According to the SDS, however, an annual decline of 1.2% is needed to 2030. Getting on track with the SDS will require improved scrap collection and sorting to enable greater production from scrap, and further development of new technologies to reduce emissions from primary production. Governments can better co‑ordinate aluminium scrap collection and sorting, provide RD&D funding and adopt mandatory CO2 emission reduction policies.

Large-scale CCUS projects in industry and transformation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2040


CCUS in industry and transformation

The total number of CCUS projects in industry and fuel transformation rose to 17 in 2019, when the Gorgon CO2 injection came into operation in Australia. Six new industrial projects are under development in Europe, with three linked to low-carbon hydrogen production. Nevertheless, even though CCUS is one of few technology options available to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in many industries, its deployment is woefully below the SDS level. Complementary and targeted policy measures, such as public procurement, low-carbon product incentives, tax credits and grant funding, are needed.

Asa Ekdahl (World Steel Association), Claude Lorea (Global Cement and Concrete Association), Florian Ausfelder (Dechema), Hugo Salamanca (IEA), Jose Moya (European Commission), Julians Somers (European Commission), Paulo Partidario (Directorate General of Energy and Geology, Portugal)

  1. Direct industrial CO2 emissions include energy-related and process emissions. Process emissions include those generated in the production of primary aluminium, ferroalloys, clinker and fuels through coal and gas to liquids routes; in the production and use of lime and soda ash, as well as in the use of lubricants and paraffins. On this page, all growth rates are calculated as the compound annual growth rate.

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