Industry urged by IEA to cut carbon levels

Greater energy efficiency in industry must be paired with a "decarbonised" power generation sector that is now the source of the bulk of carbon emissions.

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Energy-intensive heavy industry, including the growing metals and chemicals manufacturing business in the Gulf, will need to cut carbon emissions significantly if the world is to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned yesterday. Greater energy efficiency in industry must be paired with a "decarbonised" power generation sector that is now the source of the bulk of emissions, said Nobuo Tanaka, the executive director of the IEA, a Paris-based group of energy-consuming nations.

Cutting emissions from industry and power generation is crucial if the world is to halve carbon emissions by 2050, a level of cuts experts say could have a significant impact on slowing global warming. "The task is huge and requires nothing short of a low-carbon industrial revolution," Mr Tanaka said. The IEA estimates that if industry uniformly installed the most energy-efficient technology available, energy consumption would fall by between 20 and 30 per cent.

But industry will need to take additional measures, including installing technology to capture and sequester emissions, the IEA said. Carbon capture and storage technology is under development at several locations across the world, including at Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, but is still viewed as too costly for widespread commercial implementation. The Abu Dhabi Government has made major investments in developing aluminium, steel and chemicals manufacturing, which are all energy-intensive heavy industries powered by natural gas and oil.

The Government firms behind these projects say they are installing the most advanced technology on the market, and are in talks with Masdar to capture their carbon emissions and sell them to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for permanent sequestration in ageing oil wells. Mr Tanaka said developing a cleaner electricity industry should remain the key concern of climate negotiators, and warned that emissions from power generation in developing countries are currently on pace to double by 2030.

"We need a two-tiered sectoral approach to this problem in the medium term: a strong signal to investors in power generation to promote less carbon-intensive technology, and ambitious new policies to push for a more efficient use of electricity," he said. Mr Tanaka said developing countries should be given more access to the carbon market, which presents incentives to cut emissions growth, and the market should offer greater financial incentives for developing countries to build carbon capture projects and nuclear power plants, which do not emit carbon.