Reaching net-zero carbon emissions in construction supply chains – Analysis of a Swedish road construction project
Journal article, 2020

Recent estimates suggest that the construction sector accounts for approximately one quarter of global CO2 emissions. This paper assesses the potential for reducing the climate impact of road construction. The study is structured as a participatory integrated assessment with involvement from key stakeholders in the supply chain, supported by energy and material flow mapping, an extensive literature review and a scenario analysis. The
results indicate that it is technically possible to halve road construction CO2 emissions with today’s best available technologies and practices, to abate more than three quarters of the emissions by 2030 and achieve close to net zero emissions by 2045. Realising the current potential would rely on sufficient availability of sustainably produced second-generation biofuels, indicating a need to speed up the implementation of alternative abatement
measures, including optimization of material use and mass handling requirements, increased recycling of steel, asphalt and aggregates and enhanced use of alternative binders in concrete. Policy measures and procurement strategies should be aligned to support these measures with a clear supply chain focus. For deep decarbonization several key opportunities and obstacles for realisation of breakthrough technologies for basic industry are highlighted – including electrification and carbon capture for steel and cement, and hybridisation and electrification for heavy transport and construction equipment. There is a clear need to prepare for deeper abatement and associated transformative shifts already now and to carefully consider the pathway of getting there while avoiding pitfalls along the way, such as overreliance on biofuels or cost optimizations which cannot be scaled up to the levels required.

Embodied carbon mitigation

Emissions reduction

GHG emissions

Low carbon technology


Road construction

Carbon abatement

Climate change impact


Ida Karlsson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Johan Rootzén

University of Gothenburg

Filip Johnsson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

1364-0321 (ISSN) 18790690 (eISSN)

Vol. 120 109651

Mistra Carbon Exit

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra), 2017-04-01 -- 2021-04-01.

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Energy Engineering

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Areas of Advance




More information

Latest update