Chinese aluminium giant spells out steps to carbon neutrality by 2055

The world’s top aluminium producer released a plan on Friday July 15 spelling out its climate-care goals, which were announced in late June, in an attempt to heed China’s call and be at the forefront of the global work toward a sustainable future

China Hongqiao Group - based in Binzhou, in China’s northern Shandong province - announced its climate goals at the third Qingdao Multinationals Summit in late June.

In aluminium production, it will strive to keep its peak carbon emissions before 2025 and to reach net-zero emissions before 2055, Bo Zhang, chairman of parent company Weiqiao Pioneering Group, told the summit.

The group will take its baseline for carbon emissions to be the level in 2020, when fossil fuels formed the majority of its energy supply, according to the carbon neutrality goals and action plan released on July 15.

By 2040, the carbon intensity of primary aluminium will drop by 40% and the share of renewable electricity it uses will increase from less than 5% in the baseline year to 70%. By 2055, the carbon intensity of primary aluminium will drop to around zero and the share of renewable electricity will increase to 90%, the plan said.

Hongqiao will embark on an initial decarbonization stage between 2020 and 2030. During this period, the group will continue to relocate its aluminium capacity in Shandong province to the hydropower-rich Yunnan province in southwestern China. It will also make direct investments in wind and solar power.

From 2030 to 2040, the group will further invest in wind and solar power as well as using renewables such as green hydrogen. Additionally, it will launch low-carbon-intensity products such as recycled aluminium.

The decarbonization drive will go deeper from 2040 to 2055, with the use of negative-emission technologies to offset the remaining emissions and thus eventually to achieve carbon neutrality.

The process of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is one of the key technologies to tackle global climate change. CCUS includes methods to capture and purify the carbon emitted during the industrial process, either for re-use or for storage, according to the plan.

China is the world’s largest carbon emitter, and in September 2020 the country’s president urged the achievement of a carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.

Against these green ambitions, parent company Weiqiao organized the action it intended to take to achieve climate goals into 10 initiatives in the plan, including transforming the energy structure, boosting technological innovation, developing a circular economy, launching eco-friendly brands, and putting forward a low-carbon agenda across industries and regions.

“Weiqiao is determined to achieve its carbon neutrality goals and elevate climate-compatible productivity,” Zhang said. “We also pledge to make good use of our influence along the industrial chain, inviting all partners and friends to join our decarbonization efforts and to pursue green and low-carbon development.”

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