Copper in a Low-Carbon Future

Copper’s contribution to a low-carbon future

By 2050, copper can reduce the European Union’s carbon emissions by 25% — more than 1,100 million tonnes per year. With proper investment in this oldest of mined metals, copper can help achieve the decarbonisation goals of the European Commission’s Roadmap and make a real and lasting difference to our society and our world.



The European Copper Institute has compiled this report to demonstrate our industry’s dedication to overcoming the biggest environmental challenge of our time and to show that we are indeed your partner in this effort.

We cannot overstate the importance of copper’s role in decarbonisation. Some four million tonnes of copper are produced, recycled or converted into value-added products across Europe each year. Of course these activities require energy. However, they also provide the building blocks on which to base industrialised economic recovery and the new technologies a low-carbon economy will require.

We have also developed and are advancing strategies within our own businesses. Through significant capital investments, the copper producing industry has successfully reduced its CO2 emissions by cutting its unit energy consumption by 60% versus 1990. Copper producers are united in their dedication to continuing this effort and will report on their progress.

The success of the EC’s Roadmap for a competitive, low-carbon economy depends on the more rigorous adoption of existing solutions, plus the leveraging of innovative technologies that will rely, at least in part, on copper. It is clear then that the EU must strike a well-considered balance between the energy needed to manufacture our economy’s building block materials and the reduction in energy demand and carbon emissions that these will deliver.

The copper industry urges the European Commission and other policymakers to acknowledge and support such a balance as they work toward the reconciliation of policies focused on energy, climate change and industrial output.

The copper industry has developed strategies that will both trigger and support substantial carbon reductions in the downstream industrial, residential and service sectors.

By 2020, these strategies could deliver 130 million tonnes of CO2 savings per year. This amount would grow steadily, and by 2050, total EU CO2 emissions could be reduced by 25%—more than 1,100 million tonnes per year—relative to 2011 levels.