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A new plan to solve climate change’s ‘double black diamond’ problem

A new plan to solve climate change’s ‘double black diamond’ problem

Molecules of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases are pouring into the atmosphere and heating up the planet, and time is of the essence to turn off the tap. But though there are proven ways to cut the emissions out of much of modern life — namely, electrifying vehicles and buildings and powering them with renewables like wind and solar — the hard truth is that there’s still an uncomfortable number of 21st century pursuits that can’t easily be electrified.

Experts refer to shipping, flying, long-haul trucking, and manufacturing materials like steel and cement as “difficult to decarbonize.” Each of these industries has unique challenges, but across the board it’s not yet technologically or economically feasible for them to use cleaner sources of energy than fossil fuels. And clean energy isn’t the only hurdle. Making steel and cement also emits carbon dioxide as a byproduct of chemical reactions, called “process emissions.”

These five industries, plus chemicals and aluminum, are responsible for about 30 percent of global carbon emissions. But difficult to decarbonize is not impossible to decarbonize, and now a new initiative called the Mission Possible Partnership is bringing together the leading companies in each of these industries to put their heads together and figure it out.

“These seven sectors alone will bust through the carbon budget for the whole world by 2030 if they don’t significantly change trajectory,” said Paul Bodnar, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean energy research and advocacy nonprofit, which is one of four organizations behind the partnership.

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