The impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine have dramatically accelerated the urgency for Europe to phase down its use of fossil fuels, be more energy efficient and reduce the dependence of critical domestic industries. Key will be the transition of European industry to fossil free production basedon domestic resources. 70 percent of EU industrial emissions come from the production of a few key carbon-intensive materials: iron and steel, aluminium, cement and lime, and plastics. These activities also account for a large and growing share of EU energy, and fossil fuel, consumption.
Existing approaches to the industrial transition tend to focus on reducing the carbon intensity of virgin materials production. However, the current European context requires a new approach maximising both industrial energy and resource efficiency with the same level of importance. Increasing and improving closed-loop recycling and developing more materialefficient value chains will be essential. Furthermore, it will play to the EU’s long-term competitive economic strengths, such as digitalisation, logistics and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Material circularity and efficiency would not only reduce the economic costs of the transition but also ensure that the industrial transition is technically and politically feasible within the 2050 timeframe.