Research Unit

Transformative Industrial Policy

The Transformative Industrial Policy Research Unit guides and supports political processes aimed at achieving a climate-friendly, resource-efficient and sustainable industrial sector.

Effective climate action depends on a fundamental transformation of key industrial production systems. Industry accounts for around 25 per cent of all CO2 emissions worldwide, with the majority generated by just a handful of sectors. The steel, cement and chemical industries are collectively responsible for around 70 per cent of all industrial emissions. Until recently, these energy-intensive activities were seen as particularly “hard to abate”. However, alternative technologies are now available for many industrial processes, or are very close to achieving a breakthrough. What is missing are political and economic frameworks that will ensure their timely implementation.

Against this background, the researchers at the Transformative Industrial Policy Research Unit analyse and evaluate policy instruments that can be used to shape the transformation of the industrial sector. They also look at how these instruments interact with each other in the mix of various different policies and examine the interests and conflicts that influence their development, adoption and implementation. In addition, the researchers investigate the social values and norms that shape discussions around industrial policy and the institutional environment in which it is implemented.

The team


The aim of transformative industrial policy is to shape and support the political framework underpinning the industrial sector’s transition to a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable future. It focuses primarily on strategic development processes – innovation, infrastructure and long-term investments – in the knowledge that these must be set in motion without delay. This also involves balancing climate targets and sustainability goals against other potential objectives of industrial policy, such as strengthening competitiveness and domestic value creation, security, development or trade policy goals. Understanding potential conflicts and synergies between these objectives and identifying solutions are becoming all the more important in the light of geopolitical tensions and budgetary restrictions.

Profile: Research Unit Transformative Industrial Policy
Key topics

Which instruments are already established, and which are under discussion? How do the various instruments work individually and in combination? And what does an effective division of labour between the governance levels look like? To answer these questions, the researchers at this Research Unit monitor and support the development of policy instruments for the transformation of industry in a multilevel governance system – from international level to EU and national level, all the way through to regional and municipal level. In doing so, they also look at developments in industrial policy with regard to international cooperation and collaboration.

The researchers develop criteria to evaluate industrial policy measures and strategies, such as the EU's Net Zero Industry Act and the German Federal Government's "green lead markets" concept. They do this in close cooperation with companies and public authorities in order to learn from their experiences and use them to improve solutions for the next steps of the transformation process. In addition, they analyse public discourse in relation to the transformation of the industrial sector – the narratives, stakeholder coalitions and discussion networks. This helps the researchers to understand the potential impact of industry transformation on social cohesion. They also investigate ways of strengthening social cohesion through innovative and participatory governance instruments.

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