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Pressrelease | 2020-06-24
Pouring ready-mixed concrete after placing steel reinforcement to make the road by mixing in construction site

Roadmaps show how the construction and infrastructure sector can achieve net zero emissions

The installation and construction sector accounts for about one-fifth of Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are far more difficult to cut back on than those emanating from, for example, traffic – but it is possible. In three technical roadmaps, the Mistra Carbon Exit research programme shows how the installation and construction sector can achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

"Emissions from these sectors take place along the entire value chain. All actors in the chain must play an active role in the transition. This is complex, but entirely possible," says Ida Karlsson, researcher at Chalmers and member of Mistra Carbon Exit.

The technical net zero emissions roadmaps for steel, cement and transport infrastructures include both low-hanging fruit, such as material and energy efficiency measures and low-carbon material choices, as well as large-scale investments such as CCS, electrified processes and the transition to biofuels to replace fossil fuels.

The largest emissions in the value chain are accounted for by cement and steel production, and the heavy machinery and vehicles needed in construction work.

Everything now

"As things stand at the moment, we must implement everything now. Measures being taken to pick low-hanging fruit don’t mean that we don’t need to start preparing for the large-scale investments that will be needed. Nor must future large-scale investments be an excuse for not doing what can be done today," says Johan Rootzén, co-author and researcher at the University of Gothenburg.

In some cases, there are obstacles that hinder us from reaching even the low-hanging fruit, say the Mistra Carbon Exit researchers. There are plenty of examples of measures that could even today contribute to significant emission reductions in individual projects, but which for various reasons are never realized. Therefore, it is important that the climate strategies are deeply anchored and prioritized both in the individual organizations and further along the value chain. In many cases, clearer support from top management and unambiguous control from the government and parliament may be required.

CCS and electrification

In addition, many parts of the world still lack much of the basic infrastructure that is a prerequisite for access to decent housing, well-functioning means of transport and water and sanitation. According to UN sources, half of the urban infrastructure in the world needed by 2050 remains to be built.

"For example, even if the cement industry were to cut emissions using existing technology, more far-reaching measures are needed if we are to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, especially in a global perspective. The technologies needed to achieve this goal are carbon capture and storage in combination with investments in electrification of industrial processes and heavy transport and vehicles," says Lars Zetterberg, programme manager and researcher at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

Download the roadmaps External link, opens in new window.

For more information, please contact:
Ida Karlsson, ida.karlsson@chalmers.se, +46 (0)761-05 92 47
Johan Rootzén, johan.rootzen@economics.gu.se, +46 (0)736-16 75 74
Lars Zetterberg, lars.zetterberg@ivl.se, +46 (0)10-788 65 57

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