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United States Sectors

What is The United Statesʼ pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

How to citeLast update: January 2023

The US long-term strategy (LTS) identifies mining, steel manufacturing, cement and chemical production as the most energy-intensive and emissions-intensive industries, responsible for almost half of all industrial emissions.5

The US’ industry sector’s direct CO₂ emissions related to energy demand have declined by nearly 20% since 1990 (as of 2017). This decline has been driven by a reduction in total energy demand and a decrease in the use of fossil fuels. During this period, the use of coal and oil both declined by more than 60%. Process-related emissions in the industry sector have also declined since 1990, but at about half the rate of energy-related emissions.

Our analysis indicates that industrial direct CO₂ emissions need to decline faster to be 1.5°C compatible. By 2030, these emissions would need to drop by 62–79% relative to 2019 levels and the sector’s energy emissions would need to reach zero by 2041 to 2047.

In the US LTS, energy-related industry CO₂ emissions are projected to decline slightly in the 2020s and 2030s before declining more rapidly in the 2040s.5 The LTS does not project energy-related industry emissions to reduce in line with our 1.5°C benchmarks which show energy-related industry CO₂ emissions decline by 96% below 2019 levels by 2050. However, these pathways are not a direct comparison as emissions reductions from CDR technologies are considered separately in the LTS pathways while our assessment includes them.

At the federal level, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed in August 2022, aims to establish the Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment Program to reduce emissions from key industries.3 One study estimates that industrial emissions will reduce by 3–16% below 2005 levels including the impact of the IRA, largely driven by enhancements to carbon capture tax credits and reduced emissions from upstream oil and gas emissions. Industry emissions are also covered by emissions trading schemes in California and Oregon.13

1 The United States of America. The United States of America – Nationally Determined Contribution. 2021.

2 Climate Action Tracker & New Climate Institute. USA | Climate Action Tracker. 2022.

3 Rep. Yarmuth, J. A. H.R.5376 – Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. (117th Congress, 2022).

4 Climate Action Tracker. To show climate leadership, US 2030 target should be at least 57-63% – Mar 2021. (2021).

5 U.S. Department of State. The Long-Term Strategy of the United States: Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050. 2021.

6 Shepardson, D. U.S. aims for zero-emissions heavy-duty vehicles by 2040. Reuters. 2022.

7 The White House. Executive Order on Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks. The White House. 2021.

8 Biden for President. The Biden plan to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. (2020).

9 Larsen, J. et al. A Turning Point for US Climate Progress: Assessing the Climate and Clean Energy Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. 2022.

10 NCSL. State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals. NCSL. 2021.

11 Barbose, G. L. U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards 2021 Status Update: Early Release. 2021.

12 Denholm, P. et al. Examining Supply-Side Options to Achieve 100% Clean Electricity by 2035. 2022.

13 ICAP. Welcome to the ICAP ETS Map. International Carbon Action Partnership. 2022.

14 Cui, H. & Hall, D. Annual update on the global transition to electric vehicles: 2021. ICCT. Preprint at (2022).

15 E360. U.S. Inflation Reduction Act to Boost EV Adoption by 20 Percent, Analysis Finds. Yale Environment 360. 2022.

16 Wilson, K. Advocates: Cutting High Speed Rail Out of Climate Bill Was a Mistake. Streetsblog USA. 2022.

17 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

18 In some of the analysed pathways, the energy sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

The United Statesʼ energy mix in the industry sector

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 00015 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
201920302040205010 00015 000
Low energy demand
201920302040205010 00015 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 00015 000
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
  • Oil and e-fuels
  • Biofuel
  • Biogas
  • Biomass
  • Hydrogen
  • Electricity
  • Heat

The United Statesʼ industry sector direct CO₂ emissions (of energy demand)


  • Historical emissions
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Low energy demand

The United Statesʼ GHG emissions from industrial processes


  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • Low energy demand
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible industry sector benchmarks

Direct CO₂ emissions, direct electrification rates, and combined shares of electricity, hydrogen and biomass from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for The United States

Decarbonised industry sector by
Direct CO₂ emissions
150 to 269
70 to 81
25 to 28
2041 to 2047
Relative to reference year in %
−79 to −62%
−90 to −88%
Share of electricity
44 to 53
57 to 58
Share of electricity, hydrogren and biomass
51 to 54
60 to 85
67 to 84