International Copper Association pledges to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050

In a new roadmap launched by the International Copper Association (ICA), members have aligned on an ambition to reach net zero in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2050, and work toward the same goal for Scope 3 emissions. The Copper—The Pathway to Net Zero roadmap builds on previous best practice guidelines by ICA.

As copper demand is set to double by 2050, the roadmap sets out clear guidance for ICA’s members—among the largest producers of refined copper in the world—to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions 30-40% by 2030 and 70-80% by 2040.

Regarding Scope 3 emissions, members will work with value chain partners to reduce emissions 10% by 2030, 30-40% by 2040, and 60-70% by 2050. This would result in a collective emissions reduction of up to 85% by 2050.

Refined copper production emitted an estimated 97 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2018. Scope 2 emissions accounted for 46% of these emissions, followed by Scope 3 at 31% and Scope 1 at 23%. This represents 2% of mining and metals sector emissions, and 0.2% of global anthropogenic emissions.

ICA estimates that certain industry needs and policy goals must also be met in order to hit the roadmap’s goals. These include further research and development into innovative technologies for emissions reduction, the decarbonization of local power grids and regulatory certainty, including fair and stable royalties and long-term mining licenses.

The roadmap states how ICA members will reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions through four abatement levers based on market-ready and developing technologies: alternative fuels; equipment electrification; green electricity; and energy efficiency.

Moreover, the collective ambition outlined in the roadmap is based on current knowledge of decarbonization technologies and on a set of sound hypotheses about availability at scale, cost and abatement potential of these technologies. If required at all, carbon offsets and commercially unrealized technologies such as carbon capture would be limited to minimal, highly specific cases.

ICA members have also pledged to engage actively with the copper industry value chain toward the ambition of reducing Scope 3 emissions through partnerships across the value chain, and through overcoming the challenge of a reliance on the availability of up-to-date, quality data on emissions factors from various suppliers, service providers and customers. In addition, impact on the environment or local communities will be considered before any decarbonization solution is implemented.

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