Zero greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors is a difficult task

An important conclusion in the report Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in sectors that are difficult to reducepublished by the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency in collaboration with Utrecht University, means that much more needs to be done to reduce emissions in the sectors where it is most difficult – industry, the built environment, agriculture and aviation and shipping. .

Removal of CO2 from the atmosphere

The purpose of the study was to identify why it is difficult to reduce emissions in the above sectors, what measures can be taken to reduce emissions as much as possible, and on the basis of scenarios identify to what extent these measures lead to less need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Replanting of forest

The study is based on different scenarios for a maximum temperature rise of 1.5 degrees. In each scenario, reforestation or a combination of biomass use with CO2 capture and storage is a necessary part of effort packages to achieve the zero emission targets. However, its dependence can be limited by sectoral measures that contribute to a structural reduction in emissions.

Rapid growth in economic activities

For several reasons, it is difficult to reduce emissions in industry, aviation and shipping, the built environment and agriculture. Reasons include, for example, the rapid growth of economic activities in these sectors, even after a temporary decline in some of them during the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of commercially available technologies to reduce emissions on a large scale and challenges in the application of measures. Especially in industry, aviation and shipping, there are high start-up costs for new technologies and they are not yet able to compete with current, unsustainable technologies. The built environment and agriculture are characterized by a wealth of users, often with limited access to capital, knowledge and education. Local conditions also differ, which hinders the rapid introduction of innovative forms of emission reduction.

Taxes and subsidies

Various measures are conceivable to remove barriers to emission reduction. In general, these are technological innovations, structural changes that contribute to a more circular use of raw materials and more efficient waste treatment, as well as lifestyle changes. These changes can be promoted through financial instruments, such as taxes (eg on airline tickets and meat) and subsidies, but also through regulation and direct investment in research and education.

Aviation and shipping measures include long-term investments in more sustainable fuels and the promotion of alternative, cleaner modes of transport. Measures in the industry include electrification, alternative fuels and CO2 capture and storage, as well as a more circular use of raw materials and – on the consumer side – the promotion of consumption of products that live up to sustainable standards. In the built environment, several initiatives can be considered within energy saving and insulation, local electricity and energy production and – on the consumer side – strengthening energy-conscious behavior. For the lowest income countries, a shift from cooking on traditional biomass to cleaner options is an important measure to reduce emissions.


Agriculture in particular plays a crucial role in achieving the zero-emission targets due to the great potential for directly and indirectly reducing emissions. The scenarios show that the remaining emissions in this sector are still the highest. In addition to technological measures to make agriculture more efficient, a change on the consumer side could certainly make a major contribution here: cultured meat or the transition to a significantly lower consumption of meat.

By: National Education Guide

Leave a Comment