Global governance for the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries: Great potential underexploited

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Sebastian Oberthür
Gauri Khandekar
Tomas Wyns

Abstract

This article investigates the contribution of global governance to advancing the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries (EIIs – steel, chemicals, cement, aluminium, etc.). It explores to what extent relevant intergovernmental and transnational institutions have exploited the potentials of global governance to address related barriers and challenges, in particular competitiveness concerns, the need to incentivise investments in breakthrough technologies and enhance circularity across global value chains. We find that global governance's high potential to contribute to the decarbonization of EIIs has remained very much underexploited. Few international institutions contribute and there is no clear centre. Existing institutions have especially not delivered a sector-specific signal/vision and consequent international rules. In response, the formation of a central institution and/or subsector-specific initiatives might be considered. We argue that advancing global governance to tap into its considerable but so far underexploited potential ought to be an integral part of any strategy for the decarbonization of EIIs.

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