Strategies for a Climate-Neutral Basic Industry in Europe

Wuppertal Institute supports study by Agora Energiewende: summary published

  • News 18.11.2020

So far the European Commission has virtually ignored the use of climate-neutral key technologies in the steel, cement and chemical industries in its impact assessment for a higher EU climate target for 2030. The Commission's "Climate Impact Assessment" expects emission reductions in European industries almost exclusively from investments in efficiency improvements in conventional plants. Due to the plants long service life of about 40 years, retrofitting or building new industrial plants with conventional technology is not a sustainable strategy in view of the goal of climate neutrality in 2050 which is set out in the European Green Deal. This is shown in the new study "Breakthrough Strategies for Climate-Neutral Industry in Europe" by Agora Energiewende, which was produced with support from the Wuppertal Institute.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Lechtenböhmer, Director of the Future Energy and Industry Systems Division at the Wuppertal Institute, emphasises: "If European industry were to start switching to climate-neutral production processes in the current investment cycle already, this would be Europe's chance to expand its technological leadership in the development and market launch of climate-neutral production processes. It is urgent that EU creates the framework to make a climate-neutral industry economically attractive and enable European players to participate in a growing market. Major competitors already positioning themselves with their own climate neutrality targets. China wants to achieve this goal by 2060, South Korea, Japan and – according to Joe Biden's election platform – the USA aim to achieve it by 2050. Therefore, it is foreseeable that a growing market for climate-neutral technologies and products will emerge."

Climate-neutral key technologies in the steel, cement and chemical industries are at a technological stage of maturity today, or will be in the near future. The Wuppertal Institute was able to show that in the study "Future of energy-intensive industry" carried out with Agora Energiewende, which was developed within the project "Industrial competitiveness in times of climate change – How the transformation to a low-emission economy can succeed". The current study by Agora Energiewende builds on the findings of this previous study and additional research by the Wuppertal Institute on key data on the reinvestment cycle at European level.

The summary of "Breakthrough strategies for climate-neutral industry in Europe" was written in cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute. Within the project "Climate Neutral Basic Industries EU," the Wuppertal Institute supported Agora Energiewende in transferring the findings on industrial key technologies to the European level by identifying, providing, and analysing core data for the steel, chemical and cement sectors at the European level. Published in English, the study outlines the main technology paths for sustainable emission reductions in steel, cement and chemical factories. In addition, it contains a package of measures with policy instruments to initiate the climate-neutral restructuring of the European raw-materials industry. The 38-page publication is available free of charge under the link below. Publication of the complete version is scheduled for early 2021.


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