Anglo-Russian energy and metals giant EN+ Group this week unveiled plans to achieve net-zero emissions across all its operations by mid-century, in a move it has touted as setting a "new standard" in the energy-intensive aluminum sector.
The group, which focuses largely on hydroelectric power and aluminum smelting, claims the new targets are the most ambitious carbon reduction targets unveiled to date by an aluminum producer.
In addition, the firm said that in order to put it on track for net-zero emissions across all its aluminum smelting and heat and power plants by mid-century, it plans to slash its operational and power emission by 35 percent by the end of this decade.
A new taskforce has been established to plan and implement the company's climate change strategy, led by the firm's chief operating officer Vyacheslav Solomin, to report to the conglomerate's executive chairman, former U.K. energy and climate change minister Lord Gregory Barker.
Barker said the new goals were "tangible evidence" of EN+ Group's commitment to deliver a low-carbon future for the global aluminum industry.
We will achieve this transformation with relentless scientific innovation and a change program driven right across the whole group.
"We will achieve this transformation with relentless scientific innovation and a change program driven right across the whole group," he said. "This will require continued investment in major scientific advances such as our pioneering inert anode technology and critical industrial process improvements, as well as the implementation of net-zero initiatives for the hardest 'last mile' emissions."
EN+ Group also confirmed plans to publish a detailed net-zero strategy ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit in the autumn, which will follow an extensive consultation exercise with its suppliers, customers, investors and communities.
Barker emphasized that EN+ Group's metals business Rusal had a history of overachieving carbon reduction targets, noting that a previous 2025 target of emitting less than 2.7 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per tonne of aluminum had been reached eight years early in 2017. "That is why, although I don't underestimate the huge challenges ahead in meeting these targets, we face them with growing confidence," he said.
The company expects the metal segment targets for its new plans to be verified and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) by August. It added it would work with an SBTi partner, the United Nations Global Compact, over the coming months to achieve this aim.
Joan MacNaughton, chair of the EN+ Health, Safety and Environment Committee and an independent non-executive director at the company, said the firm was "determined to be at the leading edge of what this sector, being one of the hardest to abate, can do to transition to a low carbon business model."
The net-zero pledge comes after EN+ played a major role in pushing for lower-carbon aluminum to be given its own trading platform on the London Metals Exchange, in a bid to ensure that producers of lower-carbon aluminum produced by renewable energy — such as its own outfit, Rusal — are differentiated from less environmentally responsible metals producers on the trading floor.
Aluminum is a key component for electric vehicles (EVs) and other clean energy technologies, yet the production of the metal is a major contributor to global emissions.
The United Nations has identified the aluminum sector as one of seven key "hard to abate" sectors that urgently need to develop new clean technologies and processes. The International Aluminium Institute calculates that the industry is responsible for roughly 2 percent of global greenhouse emissions, largely due to the hugely energy- and carbon-intensive smelting process.