Governments from a host of nations have unveiled a new initiative designed to accelerate development of technologies that it is claimed could decarbonise sectors accounting for half of global emissions.
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Mission Innovation, which is backed by 22 countries along with the Europe Commission, targets spurring “urban transitions, eliminat[ing] emissions from industry, enabl[ing] CO2 removal, and produc[ing] renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials”, according to a statement released in advance of the launch.
The new initiative, which is aligned with the ‘breakthrough agenda’ announced by world leaders on 2 November, aims to combine R&D investments by government and the “ingenuity of business and finance” to make clean energy solutions “more affordable, accessible, and attractive than their alternatives” by 2030.
The Mission Innovation member countries, which include the US, India, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Austria and the Netherlands, are forecast to invest at least $250bn this decade in clean energy innovation.
“Mission Innovation is accelerating innovation across challenging sectors and technologies to enable a net zero transition by mid-century,” said John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate.
“To raise climate ambition and drive the clean energy transition, we need to make major investments to develop, demonstrate, and scale up innovative technologies to enable a swift and affordable net zero transition.”
EC vice-president Frans Timmermans said: “To tackle the climate crisis and reap the benefits of climate action, every country, every company, and every person needs to contribute. Mission Innovation mobilises governments to operate with a clear, collective voice, and helps the public sector to work together dynamically with the private sector to develop and scale up clean energy solutions.
“Together with sharp emissions reductions, innovation gives us a path towards the Paris Agreement. We can make clean technologies more accessible for all, and provide a platform for all countries to reach net zero.”
Mission Innovation is the third in a series launched this year, following on from initiatives on power systems, hydrogen, and shipping, calculated to have the potential “to unlock affordable decarbonisation pathways” for sectors together currently responsible for 52% of global emissions.
The member countries point to the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 report shows that nearly half the CO2 reductions required to meet the Paris Agreement targets will come from technologies that are at the demonstration or prototype phase.
Further, they said the “potential rewards for doing so are monumental”, citing the Global Innovation Needs Assessment that calculated “accelerated energy and land use innovation efforts” by governments could cut the cost of decarbonisation the energy system by 28%, saving $2.7trn a year by mid-century.
“Energy innovations alone contribute to over 85% of these savings and could also unlock low carbon value chains worth $1.5trn in gross value added, a similar scale to today’s oil & gas production industry, and 16 million jobs by 2050,” the mission members said.
Espen Mehlum, head of energy, materials and infrastructure programme at the World Economic Forum, said: “Without a radical acceleration of innovation and in bringing new clean energy technologies to market, net zero and climate goals will be beyond our reach. As a global collaboration involving leading nations and other stakeholders – Mission Innovation is a central force in fast-tracking and globalising clean energy innovation.”
US secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm said: “Mission Innovation is all about collaborating across borders and working together to innovate so we can tackle the climate crisis faster. These four new missions will turbo-charge key climate solutions and help grow clean energy worldwide, bringing with it unprecedented economic opportunities.”
The urban transitions mission will deliver 50 large-scale, integrated demonstration projects to help cities – which account for nearly three-quarters of global energy consumption and 70% of total emissions – to adopt net-zero carbon solutions.
Heavy industries including steel, cement, and chemicals, requiring high operational temperatures and using massive amounts of energy, are responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 reductions incorporated as part of planned refurbishment projects are calculated able to prevent nearly 60Gt CO2 and put industrial sectors onto a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050.
Carbon Dioxide Removal
Advanced carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, which could enable a net reduction of 100 million metric tons of CO2 a year by 2030, are to be progressed with a view to catalysing a global industry via R&D and spurring pilot-scale tests and deployment.
Transport and chemicals sectors, responsible for nearly one third of global emissions, with replacement of fossil fuel-based products with bio-based alternatives cutting CO2 and providing a renewable alternative for hard-to-abate sectors