Zero-emission EU industry ‘within reach’ but costly, study says

(EurActiv, 25 Apr 2019) Bringing emissions from heavy industry down to net-zero by 2050 is possible but will require costly new production processes and a 25-60% increase in near-term capital investments to reach €40-50 billion per year, according to new research published on Thursday (25 April).

Achieving net-zero emissions for European energy-intensive industries is “within reach” but time is running out, with 2050 only one investment cycle away, says a new study by Material Economics, a consultancy.

“Different industrial strategies and pathways can be combined to achieve net-zero emissions,” says the study, produced with the Wuppertal institute in Germany and the Institute of European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB).

“Many new solutions are emerging, thanks to a more circular economy with greater materials efficiency and extensive recycling of plastics and steel, as well as innovative industrial processes and carbon capture and storage,” the study says.

“Hard to abate” sectors

Heavy industries like cement, steel and chemicals are heavy users of fossil fuels, accounting for about 14% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions. They are considered “hard to abate” sectors because they require high-temperature heat for industrial processes which still rely on liquid or solid fuels that produce emissions when burned.

Industrial carbon emissions have stagnated since 2012 in Europe and are not expected to decrease at least until 2030, according to Carbon Market Watch, an environmental NGO which also published a report on heavy industry today.

Worldwide, heavy industry represents an even bigger share, accounting for 30% of global CO2 emissions – and those are only projected to increase as the world economy continues to grow, says the Energy Transitions Commission, an expert group.

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EurActiv, 25 Apr 2019: Zero-emission EU industry ‘within reach’ but costly, study says