The European Commission updated its one-year old Industrial Strategy with a declared aim of accelerating the climate and digital transition. The plan of action presented today leaves the door open to unproven decarbonising technologies that could allow industry to remain on its polluting path whereas there is urgency to cut greenhouse gas emissions now.  

Industry must address the climate urgency, building economic, social and environmental resilience at the same time.

“We have an agreed EU climate target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, but science tells us we need to cut emissions by at least 65% to reach the 1.5°C target, and the Industrial Strategy must fit in this climate ambition picture.

Industry cannot continue to pollute while betting on promises of future technological developments. An accelerated climate transition for European industry should address the need to curb emissions now, as the easiest to remove emissions are the ones that we do not produce. We have to cut emissions through circularity as much as through fuel shifts, not focus on end-of-pipe solutions like capturing carbon,” said Climate and Industry Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Doreen Fedrigo. 

EU industry’s decarbonisation potential is high, but can only be achieved through deep transformation: reducing the use of natural resources and energy, using low-impact materials, and promoting existing technologies that can decrease emissions. These are key for EU industry to contribute its fair share to the EU economy-wide objective of becoming climate neutral over the next decades.

This updated strategy still relies heavily on the concept of Industry Alliances, multi-stakeholder bodies addressing key issues which need attention beyond legislation. It does this by taking an ‘industrial ecosystems’ approach, bringing together representatives from different points of specific value chains, including energy-intensive, construction and renewable energy industries. [1] 

“The proposed Industry Alliances are to be reinforced with industrial ecosystem transitional pathways, which need to address a multitude of environmental challenges. Civil society remains wary of these bodies, as they have so far been another vehicle for industry to influence EU policy developments. 

The European Commission’s role in governing and framing these bodies and pathways is crucial: we need clear targets, milestones, and monitoring and evaluation processes. We also need civil society contributing to shaping these pathways from the start, ” added Doreen Fedrigo.

This year the European Commission will publish its ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package, followed by proposals on sustainable products and industrial emissions. These should help clarify how industry is expected to comply with the European Green Deal objectives and build a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.

Note to editor

[1] 14 industrial ecosystems have been identified by European Commission DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) as central to the EU economy and needing attention due to the Covid pandemic: aerospace and defence, agro-food, construction, creative and cultural industries, digital, electronics, energy-intensive industries, health, mobility, renewables,  retail, social and local economy, textiles, and tourism.

Contact: Cristina Dascalu, Communication Coordinator, cristina@caneurope.org