The impact of investing in innovative green technologies

By World Economic Forum

July 10, 2022

First Movers Coalition
The First Movers Coalition was launched at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 in Glasgow. Image: (Mark F Gibson/Gibson Digital)

The World Economic Forum is partnering with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and over 50 global businesses to invest in innovative green technologies. These financing commitments will ensure new technologies are available for scale-up by 2030 and make a critical contribution to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Since it was launched at COP26, the First Movers Coalition has brought together global companies with supply chains across carbon-intensive sectors. They range from major consumer goods firms that ship, truck and fly their products, to renewable energy companies that use steel to build wind turbines.

The companies – whose collective market value exceeds $8.5 trillion across five continents – have sent the largest market signal in history to commercialise emerging clean technologies by making advance purchase commitments by 2030 for near-zero carbon steel, aluminium, shipping, trucking, and aviation as well as negative emissions through advanced carbon dioxide removal technologies.

Through the Coalition, these companies collaborate with other private sector members such as A.P. Møller–Mærsk, Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, FedEx, National Grid, Ford Motor Company, Mahindra, SSAB Swedish Steel, Trafigura, Vattenfall, Volvo Group, Yara International, Western Digital and many more.

Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the UK have joined the US as government partners to create early markets for clean technologies through policy measures and private sector engagement.

The challenge with using technology to combat the climate crisis

If average global temperatures reach 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels, we can expect the Arctic Ocean to have one ice-free summer every 100 years. But if warming rises to 2ºC, ice-free summers in the Arctic could happen every 10 years according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Put differently, the risks to our climate of a rise in global temperatures of 2ºC over pre-industrial levels could make life unbearable for millions of people. The critical climate target of 1.5ºC can only be reached if new decarbonizing technologies are developed at speed.

However, the technologies required to clean up the most polluting sectors – such as hydrogen to reduce iron ore, green ammonia to fuel ships, or carbon capture and storage – are either not available or not yet commercially viable.

Our approach to accelerating innovative climate technology

The First Movers Coalition is collaborating with leading organizations and companies supplying clean energy technologies to pull emerging technologies into the marketplace.

For hard-to-abate sectors to decarbonize at the speed needed to keep the planet on a 1.5-degree pathway, they require low-carbon technologies that are not yet commercially competitive. To jump-start the market, the coalition’s members commit in advance to purchasing a proportion of the industrial materials and long-distance transportation they need from suppliers using near-zero or zero-carbon solutions, despite the premium cost.

If sufficient numbers of global companies commit certain proportions of their forward purchasing to green technologies in this decade, this will create a tipping point that accelerates their affordability and drives long-term, net-zero transformation across industrial value chains.

The coalition will provide a platform for a wide range of companies to make these purchasing commitments during this decade and send a clear demand signal for the technologies needed for net-zero emissions by 2050. The commitments will be technology-neutral, but they will be stringent enough to target solutions with the potential to completely decarbonize these sectors rather than only partially reducing emissions through efficiency gains or other incremental approaches.

The coalition has committed to delivering impact in six sectors by 2030:

  • Carbon dioxide removal
  • Aluminium
  • Aviation
  • Shipping
  • Trucking
  • Steel

For instance, Ball Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Novelis, Trafigura and Volvo Group have committed that 10% of primary aluminium purchases by 2030 will have near-zero carbon emissions. This can only be achieved by producers who use advanced technologies that are not yet commercially available.

The coalition will also connect supply and demand players and leverage the networks of companies and investors working with the Mission Possible Partnership and other related initiatives. These stakeholders will include suppliers capable of demonstrating and scaling the technologies needed for coalition members to meet their purchase commitments, as well as investors that bring the capability to invest in demonstration projects and new facilities.

How you can get involved

The First Movers Coalition commitments aim to be collectively significant enough that industrial decarbonization technologies achieve widespread commercial scale within the next eight years.

If your company purchases goods and services from carbon-heavy sectors, we encourage you to work with us. Your engagement will enable you to showcase your research and expertise to a wider audience and ultimately scale your own work with partners who are already contributing to the First Movers Coalition. Contact the WEF to get involved.

This article is reproduced from the World Economic Forum.


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