Going climate-neutral: expert-group recommendations to help energy-intensive industries contribute to the EU’s 2050 target

climate change

(Markus Spiske, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Commission publishes recommendations by a group of experts on how to transform the EU’s energy-intensive industries so they help reach EU-wide objectives for a circular and climate-neutral economy by 2050. These objectives were put forward in the Commission’s A Clean Planet for All strategy in November 2018.

The expert group gathers representatives from 11 industries, which make up more than half of the EU industry’s energy consumption, such as aluminium, steel and cement. They have developed a policy framework aiming to strike the right balance between Europe’s climate ambitions and the need for our industries to remain competitive. Their input will feed into the Commission’s future European Green Deal and EU Industrial Strategy.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs: “EU industries are our partners in achieving climate and circularity objectives and I congratulate them for their commitment. A climate-neutral economy is not only a must for future generations. It also represents immense opportunities in terms of innovation, economic growth and job creation.”

The recommendations include actions that could provide the right market signals to attract new investments and help companies implement cost-effective solutions towards climate-neutrality. They also focus on the need to ensure a just transition, underline the importance of equipping workers with the right skills for the future and of helping communities that depend on these industries to manage the transition.

In particular, the recommendations highlight key success factors under three main priorities:

  • Creating markets for climate-neutral and circular products, for example by making a more strategic use of public procurement to select sustainable products and services. This is provided for in the 2014 revision of the rules, giving public authorities the power to use public procurement to achieve environmental, societal or innovative objectives when buying goods and services. The experts also underline the need to help consumers make more informed choices.
  • Developing large-scale pilot projects on clean technologies, with the aim to bring them to the market. They should be supported with EU funds and by easier access to private financing.
  • Switching to alternative climate-neutral energy and feedstock sources.This would require, for example, securing access to and availability of such sources at globally competitive prices, mapping energy infrastructure and supplyand promoting the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle.

The experts group also recommends setting up an industrial transition observatory to monitor the industry’s progress towards climate-neutrality and provide guidance.

Next steps

The Commission will present the recommendations to the Member States, in the EU Competitiveness Council, and to the European Parliament in the beginning of next year.

Background

The Commission set up the High-level Group on Energy-Intensive Industries, composed of representatives of Member States, industry and civil society in October 2015 to provide advice on policies relevant to Energy-intensive industries. The industries participating in the High Level Group already presented a report in September 2018 as their collective contribution to the Commission’s “A Clean Planet for all” strategy.

Such industries lie at the heart of many value chains and are crucial to our economy and jobs. These industries share the ambition of the Paris Agreement on climate change and recognise the size of the transformation challenge as well as the opportunities it brings. They have a strong record in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing theirs by 36% between 1990 and 2015. Given the long investment cycles for these industries, meeting the 2050 target requires fast action.

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