About I3: Paving the Way for Industrial Sector Decarbonization by Midcentury

About I3: Paving the Way for Industrial Sector Decarbonization by Midcentury

The Industrial Innovation Initiative (I3) is an ambitious and diverse coalition that aims to drive emissions reductions and economic investment in key US industrial sectors. I3 values a stable climate, a safe and healthy environment, thriving livelihoods for American workers, and a strong US economy. Therefore, I3 supports policies that will put American industry on a path to net-zero emissions, retain and create high-wage jobs, and advance technology leadership and economic competitiveness.  

Key takeaways: 

  • I3 is meeting the unique challenge of industrial decarbonization by bringing together a diverse array of stakeholders to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury and maintain a strong US economy. 
  • Capitalizing on the needs of the moment, I3 first released eight recommendations for economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Since then, I3 has produced several letters of support for policies before Congress and created a Federal and State Policy Blueprint to decarbonize industry by 2050. 
  • With the 2021 Blueprint completed, I3 is focused on education, advocacy, and research to support the implementation of policy priorities and technology deployment. 

The Challenge 

For the US to achieve midcentury climate goals, every sector of the economy will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly over the next decade. Decarbonizing the industrial sector is as uniquely challenging as it is important. Industry is the third-highest emitting sector, behind electricity and transportation—and emissions are only rising. The sector is also incredibly diverse, precluding simple one-size-fits-all solutions. Nevertheless, we rely on industry to produce countless materials central to our everyday lives, from concrete and steel to chemicals and paper. The industrial sector is also a crucial economic driver and significant jobs provider, especially in America’s Midcontinent and Gulf Coast states, where we see the greatest concentration of industrial activity. This is why climate solutions must support—not hinder—the industries they decarbonize.  

This challenge brought together a group of industry leaders, policy experts, state energy officials, and industrial decarbonization stakeholders in the spring of 2020, under the banner I3 —the Industrial Innovation Initiative.  

Our Solution 

When the unexpected and unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19 put economic recovery and prosperity front and center for American industry and workers, I3 responded with eight priority recommendations to Congress. The recommendations outlined near-term policy solutions that would also sustain long-term investment in industrial decarbonization. These recommendations were distinct in their potential to drive economic activity, preserve and create well-paying jobs, be implemented quickly, and garner broad bipartisan support. 

Since the release of the recommendations, I3 has advanced policy and technology solutions critical to accelerating industrial decarbonization. Through legislative advocacy, I3 has supported actionable policies, such as: 

  • enactment of targeted carbon management provisions, including enhancements to the 45Q tax credit, support for the bipartisan Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act, and renewal and expansion of the 48C investment tax credit; 
  • increased access to US Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Programs Office Title 17 loan guarantees to drive investment in innovative industrial technologies; and  
  • federal policy mechanisms to support a US low- and zero-carbon hydrogen economy at scale. 

Drawing on analyses conducted during I3’s initial research process, participants created a suite of consensus recommendations in the form of a Federal and State Policy Blueprint in the fall of 2021. What makes the Blueprint unique is that it was created with the diversity of processes within and among industries in mind. I3 advocates for policy and market strategies that, when mixed and matched depending on the sector and facility, can put the US industry on a path toward deep decarbonization. These solutions include:  

  • Economywide implementation of carbon management—carbon capture, removal, transport, utilization, and geologic storage;  
  • Production, transport, distribution, and use of low- and zero-carbon hydrogen as a fuel and chemical feedstock;  
  • Procurement that enables government to lead by example to build markets for lower-carbon technologies;  
  • Electrification of direct emissions, particularly processes using low- and medium-temperature heat;  
  • Energy efficiency to reduce emissions, lower production costs, reduce risks, and increase competitiveness; and  
  • Applying innovative approaches to increase collaboration among industrial facilities, build markets for new innovations, and examine specific place-based needs to enable industrial decarbonization by midcentury. 

The recommendations aim to put American industry on a path to net-zero emissions, high-wage job retention and creation, technology leadership, and economic competitiveness. The Blueprint reflects a consensus of 21 I3 participants from across labor, power, industry, and environmental NGOs—a notable accomplishment in climate and energy policy.  

Looking Ahead 

I3 is developing a state and regional advocacy structure to complement existing federal work. With this structure in place, I3 can foster progress on implementing policies and actions which advance industrial decarbonization. With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, new funding and policy opportunities will allow the US to provide critical near-term investments toward industrial decarbonization at the federal, regional, and state levels.  

Going forward, I3 will continue to draw on the strength of its diverse group of stakeholders. I3 will organize and coordinate joint education and advocacy efforts supporting the implementation of policy priorities.  The table below lays out the policies put forward by the Industrial Innovation Initiative to date. These policies advance I3’s mission of incentivizing investment in low-carbon technologies, processes, products, and markets within the industrial sector and prioritizing key areas for long-term emissions reductions:

Federal and State Policy Blueprint Economic Recovery Recommendations  
Economywide implementation of carbon management—carbon capture, removal, transport, utilization, and geologic storage 
• Enhance the federal 45Q tax credit • Reform and expand other federal incentives • Responsibly accelerate the buildout of carbon dioxide transport and storage infrastructure • Increase federal investment in RDD&D • Target jobs and environmental benefits toward affected communities • Clarify state regulatory policies and planning • Tailor state financial incentives  • Foster state-level market development • Eliminate 45Q tax credit eligibility thresholds for industrial facilities and carbon utilization projects that deter technology innovation and emissions reductions • Lower the cost of investing in new production lines for designated clean technologies by renewing and expanding the Section 48C Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit Program  • Authorize funds for a temporarily expanded DOE cost-share program for commercial-scale technology demonstrations, front-end engineering and design studies, and saline geologic storage sites 
Production, transport, distribution, and use of low- and zero-carbon hydrogen as a fuel and chemical feedstock 
Provide hydrogen tax credits Develop hydrogen hubs Scale hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure Ensure additional financing mechanisms for hydrogen Fund RDD&D for hydrogen Strengthen and modernize electricity grids Include hydrogen in state sustainability plans and legislation Facilitate permitting for production, transport, and storage Offer financial incentives for low- and zero- carbon hydrogen production and use   
Procurement that enables government to lead by example to build markets for lower-carbon technologies 
• Support information and disclosure policies
• Establish procurement bonus policies
• Develop public sector procurement standards
• Develop a high achiever’s program to increase ambition through public procurement
• Expand industrial efficiency block grant funding 
Electrification of direct emissions, particularly processes using low- and medium-temperature heat 
• Provide incentives for RDD&D
• Provide financial incentives such as tax credits or grants for deployment
• Offer workforce training programs
• Improve federal permitting procedures
• Work with utilities and their regulators to facilitate pathways to electrification
• Provide financial incentives such as state tax credits or grants for deployment
• Implement workforce training programs at the state level
• Improve state permitting procedures 
Energy efficiency to reduce emissions, lower production costs, reduce risks, and increase competitiveness  
• Expand strategic energy management programs
• Assist facilities in conducting energy assessments
• Support RDD&D for emerging technologies
• Expand state block grants to support industrial efficiency
• Provide federal tax credits
• Implement state workforce training programs 
• Expand block grant funding for states to support industrial efficiency, with increased funds for states that establish programs that help build market demand for low-carbon products 
• Enhance technical assistance for the deployment of commercially available industrial decarbonization technologies through DOE’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Initiative 
Innovative approaches to increase collaboration and build markets for new innovations  
• Employ competitive grantmaking for clean industrial hub
• Spur market innovation with competitions and challenges
• Fund and support RDD&D for innovative technologies
• Establish a state task force on industrial decarbonization 
• Allow a direct pay option for energy efficiency, clean energy, and industrial tax credits that help reduce industrial carbon emissions
• Enhance financial support for early-stage deployment of clean industrial technologies by removing barriers to the Title 17 DOE loan guarantee program, and revise eligibility criteria to include key industrial technologies
• Augment investment in research, development, and pre-commercial demonstration of innovative industrial emissions reduction technologies 

Keep up-to-date with I3 news by signing up for our monthly newsletter. For more information on I3, or to get involved, contact David Soll at dsoll@gpisd.net.

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Carbon Management Program Associate, GPI

Alana joined GPI in 2024 as a program associate on the Carbon Management team, specifically supporting the Industrial Innovation Initiative, where she helps to advance industrial decarbonization through GPI’s consensus-building approach. Alana previously worked as an account executive at Jamf, where she helped current K-12 education customers improve and scale the management and security of their Apple device deployments. Alana has spent most of her professional years working with Minnesota nonprofits, including two years as an AmeriCorps member with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in community environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Ankita Gangotra, Associate, WRI

Dr. Ankita Gangotra is an Associate in WRI’s US Climate Program, researching avenues to decarbonize the industrial sector, focusing on cement and steel decarbonization, environmental trade policies and international cooperation. Prior to joining WRI, Ankita was a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Foreign Service and the Department of Physics at Georgetown University. Her research looked at the readily available technology and policy options for upgrading low-carbon cement production in the United States. Ankita has an integrated Master's in Electronics Engineering with Nanotechnology from the University of York, UK (2015) and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Auckland, New Zealand (2020). During her time in New Zealand, Ankita interned at the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor looking into equity, diversity and inclusion policy options for New Zealand’s science, research and innovation workforce.

Carrie Dellesky, Program and Outreach Manager, Carbon Removal and Industrial Innovation, WRI

Carrie Dellesky is the Program and Outreach Manager for Carbon Removal and Industrial Innovation. She develops strategies to advance policies and practices for scaling up a suite of carbon removal approaches and decarbonizing the industrial sector. She engages allies and builds and expands partnerships to mobilize champions and enhance visibility, action and impact. She also leads communications to amplify research and thought leadership, including messaging, media relations, event planning, social media and digital strategy.

Zachary Byrum, Research Analyst, WRI

Zachary Byrum is a Research Analyst in WRI's U.S. Climate Program, where he provides technology and policy analysis for carbon removal and deep decarbonization. His work focuses on pathways to reduce industrial emissions as well as bolstering technological carbon removal. Prior to WRI, Zach was a research assistant in the Carbon Management Research Initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy. In the preceding years, he served as White House Intern in the National Economic Council under the Obama Administration and then an assistant analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. Zach holds a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Goucher College.

Katie Lebling, Associate, WRI

Katie Lebling is an Associate in WRI's Climate Program where she works on research and analysis of technological carbon removal approaches and industrial decarbonization. Before joining WRI, she worked at The Asia Group, and interned at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum and the Treasury Department’s Office of Environment and Energy. She holds a Master's degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Energy, Resources, and the Environment, where she spent one year of the program studying in Nanjing, China, and has a B.A. from Colby College in Biology and Chinese language.

Debbie Weyl, Deputy Director, WRI United States

Debbie Karpay Weyl is the Deputy Director for WRI U.S. She previously served as Manager for the Buildings Initiative at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. She led an expanding global partnership to accelerate building energy efficiency in cities around the world. She also contributed to program management and development, research, and knowledge exchange for urban energy efficiency and sustainability. Debbie joined WRI from CLASP, a global non-profit organization that improves the environmental and energy performance of appliances, lighting and equipment. From 2011-2016 Debbie managed and developed global programs, led research projects, and facilitated collaboration among international experts and other representatives in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining CLASP, Debbie worked at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, where she was a contractor supporting building efficiency and other energy efficiency programs in the United States. Debbie holds a Master of Science in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. in Politics (Political Economy and International Relations) from Princeton University.

Angela Anderson, Director of Industrial Innovation and Carbon Removal, WRI United States

Angela Anderson is the Director of Industrial Innovation and Carbon Removal in the Climate Program. She leads WRI's growing portfolio of work in industrial decarbonization and carbon removal and aims to change narratives around “hard-to-abate” sectors and promote the natural and technological interventions required to achieve net-zero targets. Prior to joining WRI, Angela worked as a program director, coalition builder, international advocate, and campaign strategist. She led the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists for ten years; facilitated US-NGO engagement in the international climate negotiations while at US Climate Action Network and at the Pew Environmental Trust; and founded Clear the Air, a national coalition to reduce pollution from power plants. Angela holds a B.A. in political science from Colorado State University.

Patrice Lahlum, Vice President of Carbon Management, GPI

Patrice Lahlum is the vice president of the Carbon Management program at the Great Plains Institute. The Institute, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, works with diverse stakeholders and communities across the country to transform the energy system to benefit people, the economy, and the environment. We strive to combine our unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge and analysis, and local action to promote solutions that strengthen communities, shore up the nation’s industrial base, and enhance domestic energy independence, all while eliminating carbon emissions. Patrice oversees several initiatives including the Carbon Capture Coalition, Industrial Innovation Initiative, Carbon Action Alliance, and the Regional Carbon Capture Deployment Initiative.

Kate Sullivan, Senior Program Coordinator, Carbon Management, GPI

Kate Sullivan joined the Great Plains Institute in 2019. As Senior rogram Coordinator, Kate uses her analytical and design skills to provide research, writing, and logistical support across the Carbon Management team. Prior to joining GPI, Kate worked as an Energy Counselor in the Center for Energy and Environment’s residential department, assisting homeowners with their energy needs and providing resources for efficiency upgrades. Kate earned her BA in Biology from St. Olaf College with an emphasis in Environmental Studies.

David Soll, Industrial Decarbonization Manager, GPI

David Soll joined the Great Plains Institute in 2023 and serves as Industrial Decarbonization Manager. He oversees the Industrial Innovation Initiative, a coalition advancing decarbonization solutions for the Midcontinent region’s most important industrial sectors. Prior to joining GPI, he taught history and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he focused on urban infrastructure and energy conservation. David earned a Master’s in government from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in history from Brandeis University.

Jill Syvrud, Senior Program Manager, Carbon Management, GPI

Jill Syvrud joined the Great Plains Institute in 2017 and serves as the program manager for the Carbon Management Program. In addition to overseeing the overall program, Jill directly supports the Industrial Innovation Initiative, a coalition advancing decarbonization solutions for the Midcontinent region’s most important industrial sectors. Jill earned a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and a master of science degree in science technology and environmental policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Jill’s past experience includes multiple graduate research assistantships concentrating on technology innovation and sustainable megacities along and a previous position as an administrative and outreach coordination intern with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.