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IFIs and heavy industry decarbonization in emerging and developing economies

Timely and effective financing is critical for decarbonizing heavy industry in emerging and developing economies. This brief from LeadIT provides a high-level overview of the current financing provided for this purpose by international financial institutions, and recommends how to make it more effective.

Nadia Mondini, Aaron Maltais, Åsa Moberg / Published on 6 December 2023

Mondini, N., Maltais, A., Moberg, Å. (2023). IFIs and Heavy Industry Decarbonization in Emerging and Developing Economies. LeadIT brief. LeadIT Secretariat, Stockholm, Sweden.

View from above along a suspension bridge across a channel in Hong Kong

A suspension bridge in Hong Kong: decarbonizing the steel sector is vital to meet climate goals.

Key messages

  • Only a few IFIs currently offer dedicated technical and financial assistance for heavy industry decarbonization in emerging and developing economies.
  • While there is one targeted joint assistance program in place, it has yet to start its operations.
  • To avoid the addition of new high-carbon assets during the current decade, it is vital to scale-up assistance to deploy clean technologies, both through adequate funding to existing, dedicated programs, and through new instruments.
  • Given the complexity of the stakeholder landscape around heavy industry decarbonization, the available assistance needs to be more transparent and better coordinated, ideally resulting in integrated approaches co-created among key stakeholder groups.

Decarbonizing heavy industry is a major component of global efforts to mitigate climate change. Steel production alone generates 6% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and cement production 5% (steel accounts for 8% of all CO2 emissions, and cement 6%).

Emerging and developing economies are likely to see the highest increase in demand for industrial products over the next decades, and instruments such as the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism may fundamentally shift market conditions for industrial production and export.

To scale-up breakthrough technologies for decarbonizing heavy industry in emerging economies, innovative financing approaches that blend different sources of public and private capital are essential; and such collaborations must be established in the current decade to avoid further lock-in of new high-carbon assets.

IFIs can play a major role in transitioning heavy industry to net zero. By providing targeted concessional capital, IFIs can help de-risk investments for first movers and commercial financiers, and technical assistance at different levels can support the development of national transition plans, sectoral and corporate roadmaps, project pipelines, and capacity development.

IFIs’ involvement in supporting transitions in heavy industry is only in its early stages. Several barriers have so far hindered IFIs from engaging more actively in this space, including misalignment between IFI financing mandates and the needs of corporates involved, the size of investments needed, and country priorities focused on other sectors.

Against this backdrop, this brief provides an overview of the technical and financial assistance that IFIs currently provide to heavy industry decarbonization in emerging and developing economies. It links to LeadIT’s commitment to the Steel Breakthrough Agenda, which highlighted enhancing international assistance towards decarbonization of the steel sector as one of its priority international actions for 2023.

SEI authors

Nadia Mondini
Nadia Mondini

Policy Coordinator

SEI Headquarters

Aaron Maltais
Aaron Maltais

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Topics and subtopics
Climate : Mitigation, Finance / Economy : Finance
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