Is Net Zero Enough for the Materials Production Sector?

10th November 2022

by Simon Hann

It is estimated that there is a 67% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels if cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stay below 400 GtCO2, however current trajectories suggest that this budget will be depleted within the next 10 years if growth rates are maintained.

Emissions from the material production sector – resource extraction and processing of raw materials – currently comprise approximately 25% of global emissions and are therefore of significant importance.

Current production and consumption trajectories indicate global material use is predicted to double
from 2015 to 2060; hence, mitigating the GHG emissions from these sectors is likely to present a significant challenge.

The industries with the highest contribution to this sector are aluminium, concrete, steel and plastics.

The production of these four materials alone is currently responsible for 78% of GHG emissions from the material production sector.

Some of these industries have produced a net zero pathway to meet net zero by 2050, this report has reviewed each industry’s pathway and modelled whether these will reduce emissions quickly and deeply enough to meet climate targets.