20 May 2020

Industrial transformation for a more resilient future – new NGO position

"Business as usual" is no longer an option in the face of our current climate crisis. Industry accounts for 14% of overall greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. To meet the EU’s climate neutrality target and address the ever-increasing environmental impacts from industrial production processes, we need to embark European industry on a net-zero, non-toxic environment pathway.

Given the large-scale decisions and investments required to address industrial production, the choices we make today will impact the infrastructure and production processes of tomorrow.

This is why ECOS has joined a range of leading European NGOs, in preparing a comprehensive policy briefing outlining the policy measures necessary for achieving industrial transformation in the EU. The broad areas requiring immediate and coordinated action to achieve meaningful decarbonisation of industry by 2050 include:

  • Governance of key bodies developing the industrial transformation pathways
  • Financing and investment in net-zero compatible infrastructure and production processes
  • Infrastructure for a 100% renewable energy system
  • Circular Economy principles along the entire value chain
  • Increased sobriety and climate-neutrality requirements for industrial processes

ECOS works to ensure that standards are adequately used in support of an industrial strategy that successfully transforms EU industry by 2050 in a variety of sectors.

For public and private investments to be the drivers of change for climate neutral industry, only investments compatible with our climate commitments should be tolerated. This requires, among other things, that fossil fuels are excluded from any public investments, and for them to be fully compatible with the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy.

When it comes to energy sources relating to hydrogen and gas more broadly, we believe that only fully renewable hydrogen produced via electrolysis, is compatible with the energy transition. Industry is the main sector where the limited amount of available renewable hydrogen should be used for, and it should be targeted at industrial processes that cannot be easily and directly electrified, such as in the case of iron production.

To deliver industrial transformation for energy intensive industries, we urge that a resource efficiency first principle – for both energy and materials – is made a precondition for all innovation and refurbishment projects in industry. This must be underpinned stringent environmental and social requirements in the procurement of materials and products for this purpose, including those that support digitalisation.

Overall, the delivery of the industrial strategy must prioritise circular economy principles and reduced material consumption to be effective in the coming decades. Policies must ensure the waste hierarchy is rigorously enforced, resource efficiency in industrial production achieved, negative environmental impacts from production processes dramatically reduced, and make use systematically of secondary raw materials.

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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