What will it take to green seven of the hardest-to-abate industries?

The Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) is addressing one of the toughest challenges in climate change: decarbonizing seven of the world’s hardest-to-abate sectors by 2050. McKinsey is serving as a lead partner of the coalition, bringing over a decade of sustainability research, analytics tools and solutions, and a dedicated team of more than 30 partners and experts.

The global coalition includes institutions such as the World Economic Forum, Energy Transition Commission, RMI, and the We Mean Business Coalition, along with companies across heavy-duty road transport, aviation, shipping, steel, aluminum, cement, and chemicals. Together, these sectors currently produce 30 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

“This is one of the most significant collaborations within our sustainability agenda,” says Thomas Hundertmark, a McKinsey senior partner and a leader in our Sustainability Practice. “We are bringing the best of the firm—our knowledge, technologies, and our talent—to work against the clock to help four industries—shipping, aviation, steel and trucking—develop and achieve their net-zero pathways.”

In energy-intensive industries, pursuing a net-zero pathway means transforming the sector, investing in new “green” technologies while proactively phasing out legacy carbon-intensive assets. It means addressing how this transformation affects companies, their stakeholders, and communities, from investing in and standing up new technologies, reskilling and developing new talent, to setting up infrastructure, materials, and resources.

To lead such massive change, the MPP will be collaborating with key participants in supply, demand, finance, and government to set targets, create industry transition strategies in five-year increments, shape policy and incentives, establish cooperative R&D, and finalize metrics and assessments.

“These sectors form the foundation of our world,” says Faustine Delasalle, co-executive director at the MPP. “To support their transformation means building them a pathway towards net zero. We are accelerating this by bringing the entire value chain together and enabling radical collaboration. The on-the-ground industry experience of McKinsey is extremely valuable, and we’re looking forward to working together in the next critical decade.”

Dee Yang, a McKinsey associate partner who is leading our collaboration with the MPP, says that the work will “accelerate transitions in the broad ecosystem through open-source roadmaps and frameworks, across-the-board collaboration, and creating a clear path to operationalize strategies into day-to-day processes.”

A number of joint McKinsey and partner initiatives are already underway. In shipping, our team is developing a plan for ‘green shipping corridors’ by identifying optimal cargo routes based on volume and feasibility, analyzing the most viable types of green fuel, and outlining infrastructure requirements, such as fuel availability in a port.

These sectors form the foundation of our world. To support their transformation means building them a pathway towards net zero.

Faustine Delasalle, Mission Possible Partnership co-executive director

The construction industry is the largest consumer of steel for commercial buildings and infrastructure projects, such as bridges and ports. A key roadblock to getting construction firms to switch to green steel has been the complexity of the suppliers’ ecosystem and varying degrees of technology maturity. Our experts have been working to rationalize the complicated landscape into a coherent set of buying choices, while identifying the levers that can best encourage sales.

Finally, in aviation, we are developing a transition strategy that considers new technologies, such as sustainable aviation fuels and novel propulsion systems, and in long-haul trucking, we are exploring strategies for the significant scale up of electric or hydrogen alternatives.

“Every industrial client today needs to understand the latest developments of decarbonization at work in their sector,” says Thomas. “It will be the most significant factor in their business in over the next decade. The fact that we are a leading partner in the coalition that is setting the bar means we can provide invaluable help for their own journeys.”

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