EU Commission's "Green Deal" sets the goal of achieving European greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050. This poses major challenges for energy-intensive industries such as the basic materials industry. How can we strike a balance between the ambitious EU climate targets and the energy-intensive production of steel, cement, chemicals, glass, and paper? Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick and Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer of the Wuppertal Institute offer their recommendations for the future design of the policy framework.
By 2050, the European Union (EU) wants to become the first continent to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality. In order to become climate neutral by then, the European Green Deal provides for the adoption of a climate protection law that irrevocably compels the EU to achieve this goal. Numerous measures support the medium- and long-term objectives, from a programme to build one million charging stations for electric cars across Europe to research into CO2-free steel production.
Energy-intensive industry must undergo a holistic transformation process
The objective of securing a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from energy-intensive industries plays a central role in achieving the Europe-wide goals, especially including steel production, basic chemicals, the aluminium industry, glass, paper, and cement production, which together account for significantly more than half of industry-related emissions. The Green Deal has not yet fully formulated measures to achieve this goal. Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Scientific Managing Director of the Wuppertal Institute, critically noted: "Despite the recently growing awareness that industrial policy needs to gain a more strategic orientation, existing approaches and considerations still come up short. The urgently needed integration between industry, energy, and climate policy has not yet been sufficiently taken into account."
The new In Brief, "An Integrated Climate-Industrial Policy as the Core of the European Green Deal," shows how the transformation process can succeed at the relevant levels. In it, the two authors, Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick and Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer, Director of the Future Energy and Industry Systems Division, lay out four key agenda items:
The achievement of these goals is undoubtedly a major design task for the structures in industry that have grown over the decades. Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer: "Climate change together with digitalisation is the central driver of innovation for the European industry. Therefore, it presents not only a central challenge, but above all an opportunity."
The consistent focus on the integrative approach proposed by the authors with its four central pillars can help the EU to build a greenhouse gas-neutral basic materials industry in Europe. In addition, it can assume a technological leadership role in core future fields and secure an outstanding position for itself on the growing climate protection markets.
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