What is decarbonisation : The Future of energy


What is decarbonisation?

The importance of decarbonisation explained

Decarbonisation is the term used for removal or reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) output into the atmosphere. Decarbonisation is achieved by switching to usage of low carbon energy sources.

Decarbonisation explained

Decarbonisation is about reducing CO2 emissions resulting from human activity, with eventual goal of eliminating them.
The 2015 Paris Agreement set an ambition to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C - in part by pursuing net carbon neutrality by 2050. The substantial reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2)  will limit the increase of global temperature.

In practice, getting to zero net emissions requires shifting from fossil fuels to alternative low-carbon energy sources.

Subscribe to receive our latest insights


Why is decarbonising important?

In response to the ambition of the 2015 Paris Agreement, many governments and business leaders have set targets and made commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Decarbonisation has become a global imperative and a priority for governments, companies and society at large, because it plays a very important role in limiting global warming. Many companies across all industries (e.g., in energy, transport, consumer products) have publicly declared their intention to become carbon neutral by 2050.

While progress is being made at global, national, sector and local levels, recent estimates suggest we are not on track to meet the Paris targets, and more must be done.

How do we decarbonise?

Decarbonisation can be achieved by decreasing the amount of CO2 emitted across industries. Decarbonisation will require a fundamentally different energy system, by usinge alternative energy sources based on green electricity and green molecules (such as biofuels and hydrogen).

Acceleration of decarbonisation is needed to achieve the net zero goals. So, how can we move to this future? Whilst this is not an simple answer, Deloitte launched a report that explores how companies can accelerate decarbonisation over the next decade(s) and progress towards the energy targets by 2030. You can download the report via the download button on the right.

"The 2030 Decarbonization challenge"


open in new window Go to report

What is needed for the transition

How can executives drive industries and organizations to reverse course and lead to a low carbon future?

As said, a growing array of businesses and governments are, confronting climate change, announcing emissions goals and climate initiatives daily. While worthy in and of themselves, these efforts are often focused narrowly on the organization’s own operations. What’s needed is a more holistic system of systems approach that unlocks critical opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy by working at the intersection of emerging low-carbon initiatives.

Adopting systems thinking can help with a successful transition to a low-carbon future. Governments, consumers, businesses and industry all have to take their responsibility and re-enforce each other to build a better future.


Leading in a low carbon future



How to accelerate decarbonisation in specific industries

To realise the ambition, progress needs to be made particularly in the harder-to-abate sectors. These sectors share common characteristics, such as  long asset lifespans, high energy dependency, and complexity of electrification. Together they account for around 32 percent of global CO2 emissions. 

As part of our Future of Energy initiative, Deloitte collaborated with Shell to develop a series of reports that address the decarbonisation challenge of these harder-to-abate sectors. All hands on deck, an industry perspectiveGetting into gear”, and "Cleared for Take-off" focus on the shipping, road freight, and aviation sector respectively and highlight practical solutions to help accelerate decarbonisation in those sectors. 

These deepdives explore how to accelerate decarbonisation in various sectors, the challenges to zero emissions and what these sectors can do to achieve the climate ambitions.

Success factors for a low-carbon future in the power sector - Critical market frameworks, policies, and financing

While wind and solar PV technologies are rapidly expanding, nobody knows what alternative energy technologies lie around the corner, let alone which ones will be adopted at scale. What are the potential paths forward for low-carbon energy options, and what factors could accelerate their development and deployment and help lead to a low-carbon future?

This paper will explore factors to accelerate a low carbon future for the power sector, examining policies that can best support that objective, new financing mechanisms to expedite commercialization of new technologies, and which technologies may most quickly address the challenges of intermittency.

Success factors for a low-carbon future in the power sector

Download report

Subscribe to our Future of Energy Insights to receive all our latest reports and insights on decarbonisation.

Did you find this useful?