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Decarbonising the world. How are industries reacting to this crucial need?

Posted by: Sharon Dunleavy

Reducing our carbon footprint is high on the agenda, both for us as individuals and the organisations we work for. This is a crucial part of nations meeting the emissions targets as determined in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Since the Paris Agreement, corporate leaders and investors have talked about the importance of transitioning to a decarbonised economy and are already taking steps to make fundamental changes to the way they do business.

They are:

  • Innovating to create ways of removing CO2 from current energy sources.
  • Changing to renewable forms of energy.
  • Reducing energy demand by creating more efficient sources of energy.

This global challenge is opening avenues of opportunity and innovation for many corporate actors. In this blog, we focus on WRS’s areas of expertise – energy, mining and maritime – to understand how these industries are rising to the challenge and introducing fantastic innovations.

Energy - Decarbonisation is being achieved by increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources, particularly renewables. Worldwide, renewables now produce a third of power capacity. Capping greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power stations by installing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is also expected to play an increasing role. There are now 19 large-scale CCS facilities in operation globally , with four more under construction. When combined with bioenergy technologies for power generation (so-called BECCS – bioenergy with carbon capture and storage), CCS also has the potential to generate ‘negative emissions’, removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

In the UK, decarbonisation of the power sector is necessary to achieve the mandatory greenhouse gas emission target of ‘net zero’ by 2050 set in the amended UK Climate Change Act (2019). Significant progress has already been made with the sector’s emissions halved from 2012 to 2017, due to an increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix, and because of improved energy efficiency of products. The UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has shown that the power sector could achieve emissions of 3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2050. (For comparison, in 2018 the sector’s emissions were 98.3 million tonnes [provisional government figures].) The CCC has called for a quadrupling of low-carbon power generation by 2050 as a crucial part of decarbonising the sector.

Read the full article here:

Maritime - Wind propulsion is at the heart of this example for the shipping sector. The Decade of Wind Propulsion 2021-2030 campaign spearheaded by The International Windship Association (IWSA) aims to achieve a rapid and measurable decarbonisation of the global shipping fleet as early as the 2020s. Their technology and design teams unveiled a ‘True Zero Emissions’ ship design saying the innovative all-ship solution is able to eliminate CO2, NOx, SOx and particulate matter (PM) to ‘True Zero’, helping the shipping industry to meet stricter emission guidelines.

With pressure mounting to decarbonise the shipping industry, fast, low-cost solutions are needed. Wind propulsion seems to provide practical solutions which are ready to go or nearing market, requiring no new infrastructure investment, no storage tanks onboard and is delivered directly to the point of use.

The EU has forecast that up to 10,700 wind propulsion installations could be in place by 2030, covering 50% of the bulker market and up to 65% of tankers. This will in turn reduce emissions by 7.5m tonnes of CO2. The UK Clean Maritime Plan forecasts that wind propulsion technologies will become a GBP2bn a year segment, with approximately 37,000-40,000 installations (equivalent to 40-45% market penetration) by the 2050s.

Read the full article here:

Mining - The world’s largest producer of diamonds by value, The De Beers Group, is setting out to achieve carbon neutrality at its mines in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa as well as in its other operations across the diamond pipeline around the world. They have set a deadline of 2030 to achieve this.

To sum up the strategy, they have coined the term ‘reduce, replace and recover’. This can be broken down as follows:

  • Optimum energy efficiency across all operations falling under the ‘reduce’ heading;
  • The introduction of clean-fuel equipment and green electricity generation reflecting the ‘replace’ heading;
  • Nature based carbon absorption programmes forming the main part of the ‘recover’ task. Rather than buying carbon offsets on the market, De Beers Group is going all out to find carbon-neutrality solutions within its own operations and on the land that is within the scope of its control and that it supports. They are working together with stakeholders, the communities in which they operate, the regulators, governments, shareholders, suppliers, employees and consumers.

Thirteen high-level replacement projects are poised to elevate the group to within 80% of its carbon-neutral target. The focus of these is on installing solar power at mines in South Africa and Botswana, and wind power in Namibia, which has massive wind potential. Research is ongoing on how to speed up the carbon capture process, whilst ultramafic kimberlite has an extraordinary capacity to absorb more carbon than other rocks there is still a need to increase that rapidity further. Changes to operations are also required for example, converting trucks to run on hydrogen and either building their own clean energy plants or doing so in partnership with others.

The De Beers Group’s overall sustainability ambition goes well beyond carbon neutrality and is made up of ‘12 Building Forever’ goals aimed at lasting positive impact for communities and the natural world. Included are the promotion of ethics, communities and equal opportunity for all, in addition to environmental protection.

Read the full article at: De Beers adopts strategy to meet carbon-neutral ambition (

In summary it is clear much work is being done within companies, industries and organisations that WRS supports. Innovation and change are being embraced widely. This in turn is providing many opportunities for growth and, along with the current restrictions on movement around the world, a necessity for diversity within the workforce.

We partner with businesses from all of these sectors and are ready to help you with any or all of your recruitment needs. See our website for more details:


WRS can save you time and money by supporting internal resources, providing you with the best pre-qualified candidates when you need them. We are a workforce solutions company with offices in Europe, the Middle East, APAC and the Americas, supporting the needs of businesses around the world. We employ specialist sector consultants, who can help you to identify the expatriate and local personnel you need to keep your business moving forward.

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