Sustainable Industry

Working with the industry to ensure the development and commercialisation of key decarbonisation technologies

  • Project Duration: 06/2018 - 06/2019

This project asks how climate protection measures can best be reconciled with promoting innovation and global competitiveness in Germany’s industrial sector. In the coming years, the raw materials industry in particular will not only have to develop innovative products and processes in order to remain competitive on the world stage; it will also need to make a significant contribution to meeting national and international climate targets.

Against this backdrop, the project pursues two specific goals: first, it examines how various technologies can contribute to extensive reductions in industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Here it will identify potential means of achieving the industrial emissions reductions targets out in the federal government’s 2030 climate plan. Second, it seeks to determine the market conditions and political tools required for the development and commercialisation of those technologies essential to the long-term, climate-neutral orientation of the industrial sector. Particular attention is given to the delineation of political measures and market regulations, along with the interaction between these and the challenges and obstacles to their implementation. The involvement of representatives from the spheres of industry, politics, government ministries, and civil society ensures close attention to the practical realities of these domains.

The project aims to help German industry secure a leading position in the race to develop sustainable products and processes. At present, Germany lags behind Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands in planning and implementing pilot projects in this area. This is in part due to the favourable conditions in these countries for testing new technologies and processes and building on existing ones. Here it will be essential develop and implement innovative and effective strategies for Germany’s industrial sector.

Long-term, strategic planning is urgently required if Germany is to join the world’s sustainable industry frontrunners and remain globally competitive in the long term. Since investment cycles in many branches often run to over 20 years, the effect of investment decisions made today will continue to be felt into the middle of the century. According to current agreements among the international community, this is a period that will see the phasing out of fossil fuel C02 emissions and other greenhouse gases across the board. It is therefore urgently necessary to establish pilot projects and gradually introduce new technologies to the market.

In order to facilitate this, a convincing strategy is needed that brings together two key elements: (1) funding programmes and regulatory conditions that allow a wide range of companies to enter the burgeoning field of sustainable primary material procurement and (2) competitive investment conditions in Germany that prevent carbon leakage. In short, it has to be ensured that strategies and incentives intended to promote the present and future competitiveness of German industry no longer conflict with one another, as they often do today, but rather dovetail with and build on one another on the back of new regulatory provisions.

The interim results of the project will be presented and discussed at a number of workshops bringing together representatives from the spheres of industry, politics, government ministries, and civil society. Agora Energiewende is collaborating on the project with the Wuppertal Institute.

The consultancy firm Navigant has also been commissioned to undertake part of the research and a law firm will be consulted on relevant legal issues. Further cooperation comes from the IN4climate.NRW initiative, run by North Rhine-Westphalia‘s economics ministry.


Project management

Dr. Fabian Joas

Dr. Fabian Joas

Senior Associate EU Electricity Market | Industrial Policy and the Energiewende (until December 2019)



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