The basic materials industries are a cornerstone of Europe’s economic prosperity, increasing gross value added and providing around 2 million high-quality jobs. But they are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite efficiency improvements, emissions from these industries were mostly constant for several years prior to the Covid-19 crisis and today account for 20 per cent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
A central question is therefore: How can the basic material industries in the EU become climate-neutral by 2050 while maintaining a strong position in a highly competitive global market? And how can these industries help the EU reach the higher 2030 climate target – a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55 per cent relative to 1990 levels?
In the EU policy debate on the European Green Deal, many suppose that the basic materials industries can do little to achieve deep cuts in emissions by 2030. Beyond improvements to the efficiency of existing technologies, they assume that no further innovations will be feasible within that period. This study takes a different view. It shows that a more ambitious approach involving the early implementation of key low-carbon technologies and a Clean Industry Package is not just possible, but in fact necessary to safeguard global competitiveness.