COP26 brings essential collaboration around industrial decarbonization

Last month, the UN held its 26th annual Climate Change Conference (COP26), resulting in a formal agreement acknowledging that a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 provides the best chance to decarbonize the global economy by 2050. During the conference, leading nations and the private sector made substantial commitments to drive decarbonization this decade, including important commitments for industry.

When emissions from electricity and heat are included, industry accounts for 40 percent of emissions globally. Solutions to decarbonize the industrial sector are critical if the world is to take serious action to reduce emissions this decade. Among the pledges and plans made at COP26, three key takeaways have emerged for industry: 

  • Countries and companies are coming together around market-driven approaches for low-carbon technologies and products.  
  • There is increasing collaboration among countries to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon innovation technologies for industry. 
  • Roadmaps for industry are paving the way for decarbonization in hard-to-abate sectors.

In November, the Industrial Innovation Initiative (I3) released its first consensus policy blueprint. In line with many of the initiatives launched during COP26, the blueprint outlines key recommendations to accelerate innovation across low-carbon technologies, processes, products, and markets. As the international community moves forward on its commitments, I3 is paying attention to those that are well-positioned to make an impact. 

Key Announcements at COP26 

US-led coalition will drive market demand for low-carbon technologies and approaches The First Movers Coalition, led by the World Economic Forum and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, brings together more than 30 companies committed to creating demand for low-carbon technologies and approaches to decarbonize industry. Based on leading analysis from the Mission Possible Partnership, the coalition will address the gap in commercially available decarbonization technologies by stepping up their purchasing commitments in hard-to-abate sectors. The first phase of purchase orders announced at COP26 includes a 2030 target for the procurement of green steel.

Five countries commit to buying low-carbon steel and cement 

The United Kingdom, India, Germany, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates have committed to using their public purchasing power to create demand for low-carbon industrial products starting with steel and cement. The five countries will work together under the Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative to support the decarbonization of heavy industry and develop 2030 interim targets ahead of the next Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in 2022. 

Steel and hydrogen get a breakthrough agenda 

Leading nations have endorsed the Glasgow Breakthroughs, an ambitious set of goals to drive innovation and deployment of clean technologies in five key sectors of the economy, notably including steel and hydrogen. The steel breakthrough aims to make near-zero-emissions steel the preferred market choice by 2030. The hydrogen breakthrough will assess global costs, production capacity, and technology investments needed to make low-carbon hydrogen available and affordable by 2030. A global checkpoint process will be implemented in 2022 to monitor progress on the breakthroughs. 

Companies align to advance the global hydrogen economy 

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Markets Initiative have convened 28 companies under the H2Zero initiative to accelerate the development of low-carbon hydrogen projects. Participating companies have tailored their commitments in three areas: demand, supply, and financial and technical targets. Shell, for instance, has pledged to expand both its demand and supply for reduced carbon hydrogen by 2030.  

Mission Innovation launches three new missions with industry impact 


The 22 governments and EU Commission that make up the Mission Innovation platform have announced three new initiatives that will impact industry:  

  • Led by Austria and Australia, the Net-Zero Industries Mission will help unlock emissions reductions for steel, cement, and chemicals. 
  • Under the Carbon Dioxide Removal Mission, the US, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Norway have committed to achieving a net reduction of 100 millionmetric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030. Each country will invest in fund research, development, and deployment over the next five years to support this goal.  
  • The simultaneously launched Integrated Biorefineries Mission will encourage cost-competitive fuel switching to biobased alternatives in the transportation and chemicals sectors. 

New initiative to accelerate the transition to clean industrial clusters  

COP26 was the launching point for the new initiative, Transitioning Industrial Clusters towards Net Zero, a collaboration between the World Economic Forum, Accenture, and the Electric Power Research Institute. Recognizing the benefits of co-locating industrial facilities, the initiative aims to advance the deployment of net-zero industrial clusters. The work builds on their initial report, Industrial Clusters – Working Together to Achieve Net Zero. Currently, four clusters in Spain, Australia, and the United Kingdom have signed on. The initiative’s goal is to have 100 clusters signed on by 2024. 

Global Cement and Concrete Association releases roadmap for net zero by 2050 

While governments collaborate to reach emissions reductions across industry, sectors are also leading their own commitments. Last month, the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) released a foundational Roadmap for Net Zero Concrete. GCCA’s 40 cement and concrete manufacturers have aligned in one the most significant net-zero ambitions from industry to date, with added ambition from members’ own 2050 commitments like the Portland Cement Association’s roadmap for carbon-neutral concrete. 

Securing global action for industrial decarbonization 

Last month’s climate summit signaled a global movement of support for industrial decarbonization. Both the public and private sectors are generating demand for low-carbon products and technologies by creating markets for industries with the ambition to decarbonize. Governments and companies are collaborating to develop critical pathways needed for emissions reductions both within and across industrial sectors. The world is ready for industrial decarbonization, but more must be done to ensure that ambition is implemented before COP27.  

The coming year will require robust collaboration across government, industry, and other stakeholders to see these commitments upheld. The Industrial Innovation Initiative’s diverse stakeholder group is working to meet the moment by advancing low-carbon innovation through policy and consensus.  

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our progress and the latest in industrial decarbonization. 

Share this post

Stay current

Keep up with I3 by joining our Newsletter.


"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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.