Decarbonise Now: Securing A Greener, Cleaner, Better Industrial Future

Mission Zero Coalition, Industry Network report launch

December 2023, London

Cutting emissions in energy-intensive industry and manufacturing is one of the most challenging yet critical areas of climate change mitigation.

Building on the Independent Review of Net Zero earlier this year, the Mission Zero Coalition’s Industrial Network published its report on key policy action needed to speed up emissions reductions in hard-to-abate industrial sectors.

Led by Rt. Hon Chris Skidmore MP, the report emphasises that decarbonisation must not, and will not lead to deindustrialisation and carbon leakage if the opportunities for job creation and investment involved in positioning the UK as the leader in low carbon industries of the future are harnessed.

As a member of the Mission Zero Industrial Network, IDRIC contributed insights from its research and policy work to the report. At the report launch, Anna Pultar from the IDRIC Policy Team joined Chris Skidmore, Roy Calder and Chris Williams on the panel and shared key messages from IDRIC’s policy engagement and research:

  • Net Zero requires no less than a systemic transformation of industry, manufacturing and innovation, and a strong knowledge base underpinning this process. There is no one-size-fits-all, but a combination of approaches and techniques is needed to cut industrial emissions. Advancing a portfolio of technologies along with the infrastructure and networks required is therefore critical.
  • Technology doesn’t exist in isolation. The industrial transition requires a systemic overhaul at pace and scale, including the right market conditions and finance to enable and de-risk investment, effective regulation and standards, consideration of environmental implications, and a skilled workforce and supply chains. It is also critical that pathways to decarbonise industry are built on public consent and obtain a ‘social license to operate’, which builds on honest communication with local communities and the wider public, and distributing the costs and benefits of net zero to ensure a just transition.
  • In addition to ground-breaking research, it is important to make this large body of knowledge accessible to industry, policy makers and the public. A key function of a centre like IDRIC is collating and synthesising the information, actively bringing together the ‘embodied expertise’ from academic experts, industry leaders and key practitioners in UK and devolved government and the various regulating bodies, each having to play a key role in making this transition happen.
  • Coordination across decarbonisation strategies and policy areas is critical to providing the supply of renewable energy, hydrogen and CCUS needed. Roadmaps and policy interventions also need a stronger consideration of the demand side, and the options and challenges manufacturing businesses across the UK are facing as they are making decarbonising investments: from access to finance, information and infrastructure, to issues involved in securing planning consent and permitting of low-carbon industrial processes. Place-based approaches to decarbonisation, such as the collaborations in the UK’s industrial clusters, are attempts to bridge supply and demand side considerations and enable coordinated approaches to industrial decarbonisation.

Governments play an important role in providing a clear direction of travel for investors and communities alike. A sound strategy for industrial decarbonisation needs to include: 

  • A clear commitment to support a range of critical decarbonisation options to incentivise private investment and support emerging markets
  • Developing a clear plan for the envisaged roll-out of infrastructure and integrated energy system that takes into account the needs of different sectors and geographies.
  • Going beyond a purely technology-related issues taking into account critical social, economic, and political dimensions of a successful and sustained industrial transition to net zero.
  • Establishing mechanisms for greater coordination across policy domains and between multiple government agencies (including devolved governments), regulators, industry and other stakeholders.

The Industry Network report can be downloaded here.

For more information on IDRIC’s policy research and engagement, please contact the IDRIC Policy Team at policy@idric.org.