Four ‘Missions’ have been announced at today’s (9th Nov) Science and Innovation Day at the COP26 event, intended to spur further investment in clean energy technologies.

The new Missions will build upon the existing three announced in June earlier this year, on power systems, hydrogen and shipping. Announced by Ministers from the US, India, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands and European Commissions, they will aim to facilitate urban transitions, eliminate emissions from industry, enable carbon dioxide (CO2) removal, and produce renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials.

Combined, the Missions allow collaboration between governments and private sectors to develop and demonstrate clean technologies capable of decarbonising sectors responsible for 52% of global emissions.

The 23 Mission Innovation members have projected that, to make clean energy solutions more affordable, accessible, and attractive than their alternatives by 2030, at least $250bn will be invested this decade in clean energy innovation.

Dialing in on hard-to-abate sectors, the new Missions are described as:

Urban Transitions – With cities contributing 70% of total emissions and consuming nearly three-quarters of global energy consumptions, the Urban Transitions Mission aims to help cities adopt net-zero carbon solutions by delivering 50 large-scale demonstration projects around the world.

Net-Zero Industries Mission – Hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, cement, and chemicals make up a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Responsible for a quarter of GHG emissions, the project aims to unlock emissions reductions, preventing nearly 60 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2.

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Mission – CDR technologies will be implemented in this Mission, co-led by the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Canada, with the objective of removing 100m metric tonnes of CO2 per year globally by 2030.

Integrated Biorefineries Mission – This Mission will seek to investigate technologies suitable for replacing fossil fuel-based fuels, chemicals and materials with bio-based alternatives, potentially contributing to lowering global emission by around one third. Led by India and the Netherlands, details will be revealed in 2022.

Stating that Mission Innovation is accelerating innovation across challenging sectors, John Kerry, US Special President Envoy for Climate, said that these technologies will help enable a net-zero transition by 2050.

Adding, “To raise climate ambition and drive the clean energy transition, we need to make major investments to develop, demonstrate, and scale up innovative technologies to enable a swift and affordable net-zero transition.”

The new Missions come after a report by the International Energy Agency, Net Zero by 2050, which revealed that almost half the CO2 reductions required by 2050 will come from currently demonstrable technologies, with public and private sector financing being the key to overcoming the financial challenges involved.

Saying that a ‘radical acceleration of innovation’ is necessary, Espen Mehlum, Head of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure Program, Benchmarking and Regional Action, World Economic Forum, commented, “As a global collaboration involving leading nations and other stakeholders – Mission Innovation is a central force in fast-tracking and globalising clean energy innovation. 

The Mission Innovation announcement is one of several projects committed to by the UK Government on COP26’s Science and Innovation Day.

Commitments were made to the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), a network of more than 90 organisations across 30 economies collaborating to increase the resilience of climate change-vulnerable communities.

The Government also announced a further £48m to be invested into the Climate Adaptation and Resilience research programme (CLARE), which is a vehicle for putting ARA’s work into practice by utilising its total UK aid funding.

A new partnership between the UK, India, Germany, Canada and UAE, called The Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDD) will see the countries joining forces to create new markets for low carbon steel and concrete, with the aim of achieving net zero in major public construction steel and concrete by 2050.

According to the Global Innovation Needs Assessment, supported by the UK Government and Climateworks Foundation, $2.7tn per year could be saved by 2050 by utilising methods laid out in the Mission Innovation announcement. 85% of these savings are contributed to by such energy innovations and have the potential to unlock low carbon value chains worth $1.5tn in gross value.