Stuart Isett

Clean Materials Manufacturing

About the Project

Why Focus on Materials Manufacturing?

The pace and success of a global low-carbon transition to reach net-zero by 2050 depends on a robust supply of basic materials for products—from a renewable energy supply chain to zero-emission vehicles to low-carbon construction—all while lowering the carbon intensity of those materials.

Industry, especially “heavy” industry that produces basic materials like metals, chemicals, and cement, tends to be highly carbon-intensive, generating high emissions per unit of economic value added. Emissions are typically associated with fossil fuel combustion, but also with the chemical processes that are an inherent part of production.

Basic material producers frequently compete in global markets, making transition efforts economically challenging and running the risk of driving jobs and pollution out of state and overseas. These characteristics make heavy industries “hard to abate.”

Decarbonizing these industries is not simply a matter of using cleaner fuels and improving efficiency. The challenges are also technical and transformational: changing production systems, developing new infrastructure, and deploying new technologies to avoid or capture emissions in ways that are economically sustainable.

Clean Materials Manufacturing

The Clean Energy Transition Institute,  in collaboration with SEI-US, and under the direction of Derik Broekhoff, produced a Washington State Industrial Emissions Analysis for the Washington Department of Commerce in July 2021.

The Clean Materials Manufacturing project expanded upon that analysis for six manufacturing sectors—aluminum, concrete and cement, glass, iron and steel, pulp and paper, and wood products—to provide background material for Building Washington’s Clean Materials Manufacturing Economy.

Additional Resources


ClimateWorks Foundation

International Energy Agency

Leadership Group for Industry Transition

Mission Possible Partnership


The Big Switch

The Energy Transition Show



American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

Electrify Now

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

Key Terms

  • Upstream and downstream emissions: For the manufacturing industrial processes discussed in this project, upstream emissions are those that occur before the raw material enters the industrial facility. This includes emissions associated with extraction, handling, and transportation of the raw material. Downstream emissions occur after the produced material leaves the industrial facility and include emissions associated with delivery, end-use, and disposal.
  • Direct emissions: Direct emissions are from sources that are controlled or owned by a reporting entity (e.g., an industrial facility) and are emitted during the production phase (i.e., not including upstream or downstream emissions that are indirectly related to the industrial process).  
  • Process emissions: Process emissions occur as a result of chemical or physical transformations that are part of an industrial process.