Reducing material use could cut emissions from cars and homes by at least a third

This article was published in CarbonBrief by the CIRCOMOD consortium experts Professor Edgar Hertwich,  international chair in industrial ecology at Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Professor Stefan Pauliuk, a professor for sustainable energy and material flow management at the University of Freiburg.


Producing the steel, concrete and other materials that go into our cars and homes accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gases, so using these things more efficiently has significant potential for emissions cuts.

In our recent study, published in Nature Communications, we found that constructing lighter and smaller products, combined with more intense material use and some behavioural shifts, could cut emissions from these sectors by between one and two thirds. What is more, making these changes does not require any technological breakthroughs – just willingness among politicians and citizens.

We investigated the production, use and disposal of residential buildings and vehicles in the period up to 2050, exploring different assumptions about demand, population size and climate policies.

Our modelling shows how material efficiency can deliver savings on top of energy efficiency and low-carbon energy supply, making it the third pillar of deep decarbonisation for these sectors.


read the full article here