Valeria Uribe
National Director
Fundación Panamericana para el Desarrollo – PADF
/
Expert Contributor

The Road to Decarbonization 2022

By Valeria Uribe | Fri, 09/23/2022 - 13:00

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humankind. Carbon emissions are constantly rising despite the need to move toward net-zero global emissions, which needs to be achieved by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

How can we tackle this?  

Through the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, and to do their best to keep it under 1.5 degrees. According to research by Climate Interactive and MIT, achieving this goal would require limiting total cumulative global emissions to 2,900 gigatons of CO2. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have emitted 2,100 gigatons of CO2, which leaves a remaining carbon budget of 800 gigatons. To limit global emissions to this number within the century would require near total decarbonization of global economic activity by 2060.

One way to tackle this challenge is to develop decarbonization solutions. Industry, government, and civil society need to address the climate crisis as well as other related issues around the environment, such as the biodiversity crisis, public health challenges, natural resources constraints, land degradation, poverty, social inequality, economic crises, and air pollution, among other environmental problems. 

If we make people aware about what decarbonization is and how it works, we can enable leaders to make informed decisions in the most effective ways to reduce emissions. 

How does decarbonization work?

Decarbonization involves increasing the prominence of low-carbon power generation and a corresponding reduction in the use of fossil fuels. This involves specific use of renewable energy sources like wind power, solar power, and biomass. The use of carbon-based energy can also be reduced through large-scale use of electric vehicles alongside cleaner technologies. Decreasing carbon intensity in the power and transport sectors will allow for net-zero emission targets to be met sooner and to be aligned with government standards.

An industrial sector that is working to reduce emissions by investing in new technologies is the automotive sector.

According to the “The zero-carbon car: Abating material emissions is next on the agenda,” prepared by McKinsey, the automotive sector is critical to achieving net-zero global emissions by 2050, the foundation of the road map toward limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Many original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are accordingly setting aggressive decarbonization targets to meet this challenge. Since 65 to 80 percent of emissions an automobile generates are from tailpipe emissions, and corresponding indirect emissions come from fuel supply, the industry has understandably focused on electrifying powertrains. However, to reach the full potential of automotive decarbonization — and achieve the zero-carbon car — industry players now must turn their attention to material emissions as well. 

Developing strategies to address these material emissions today is key because achieving large-scale decarbonization will be a long-term endeavor. This effort requires industry participants to adopt and scale the use of new technologies and their associated processes while managing changing flows of materials.

The State of Mexico Automotive Cluster (ClautEdoMex) has launched the initiative, The Road to Decarbonization 2022. This is the second edition that presents initiatives and strategies for the decarbonization of the industry in Mexico. This event will be held on Sept. 27 and 28. 

Elisa Crespo, president of the ClautEdoMex, has said that the objective of this event is to implement training programs in the industrial field. This would allow reductions in energy consumption while seeking profitability and achieving sustainability. At the same time, it would enable the sector to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, share best practices on sustainable development, and transfer practical knowledge for everyday living, thus motivating society to be more aware of the need to protect the environment and generate a proactive community.

What actions is the automotive industry in Mexico taking to achieve decarbonization?

To this question, Crespo replied that they link companies with both public and private policy instruments for sustainable development that allow them to reduce their carbon footprint. They also promote social entrepreneurship on green solutions and carry out workshops on issues that impact decarbonization operations on products, manufacturing, and infrastructure in the automotive sector.

Under this initiative, which for the second consecutive year has reached countries such as Colombia, the US, Spain, and the UK, companies such as Iberdrola and Siemens are already participating. In addition, companies belonging to the automotive value chain, such as Nitrex, Cuprum, Etsa, Autoliv, Raee, and Stant; delegation representatives from the Basque Country, the Netherlands and Quebec; and other stakeholders, such as the National Auto Parts Industry (INA), the American Society of Materials (ASM Mexico Chapter), the Inter-American Construction Guild Corporation and from civil society, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) in Mexico, have joined this initiative.

Decarbonized production helps achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contributes to sustainable development.

A transformation of the industrial sector toward low-carbon processes is, therefore, necessary. In practice, however, the transformation of industrial supply chains, production processes, and factory concepts are associated with significant challenges, as industry processes require a significant redesign and systems innovation. 

According to the Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the transportation sector alone accounts for a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions; therefore, the decarbonization of the automotive industry must be met by 2060. 

Regarding the future of the automotive industry, it is necessary to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. It is important that innovation bridges all transportation subsectors concerning passenger vehicles. The decreasing costs of electric vehicle technologies as well as strong global demand has the potential to drive a transition to electric vehicles.

Innovation in this sector is going to have a significant impact on efforts to decarbonize the global economy. We need more initiatives from the automotive sector like ClautEdoMex’s The Road to Decarbonization 2022, and we need a strong commitment from governments, civil society, and the private sector to reduce greenhouse emissions and stave off the worst effects of climate change.

If you would like to know more about this initiative, you can find information on this website: https://www.cdi2030.org.

Photo by:   Valeria Uribe