In the past years, businesses have been increasingly working towards a low-carbon economy. Direct GHG emissions from industrial processes have fallen by 38% in 2016, compared to 1990 levels. However, current mitigation efforts in the industrial sector need to be accelerated to achieve compliance with the Paris Agreement. Therefore, promising zero-carbon solutions are needed. A trade-off between deep decarbonisation, long-term solutions and short-term emissions reduction will have to be made. R&I investments should thus focus on solutions to achieve close-to-zero or even negative emissions, and not on processes that only reduce emissions. The implementation of a circular economy might present such an opportunity to transform the way in which we produce, source and consume products and services. Similarly, the EU bio-economy has great potential: in 2010, it had a turnover of almost €2 trillion and employed more than 22 million people (9% of total EU employment) (European Commission, 2012). Another milestone in creating clear pathways for the European Industries is the recently published European Climate Foundation report on “Industrial Transformation 2050”, which builds upon the growing momentum for an EU industrial transition to net-zero amongst policy makers and even industry, and sketches the blueprint of such an industrial strategy towards climate neutrality.
In the short term, increasing energy efficiency through more rapid deployment of low-carbon technologies, and deep electrification of industrial processes is the key to reducing industrial GHG emissions. Therefore, future R&I investments should be centred around four pillars: energy efficiency and material savings, deep electrification, embedding industrial processes in the circular economy and innovation in zero-carbon breakthroughs for process-based emissions industries.
The workshop on “Business for an EU low carbon economy – solutions and policies” facilitated by the DEEDS consortium, aimed to bring the recommendations of the High-Level Panel of the EDPI to a more concrete level. The participants of the workshop identified solutions for deep electrification of industrial processes and process-based emissions as well as for energy efficiency and circular economy. Participants eagerly discussed where R&I priorities should be.
The workshop took place on Monday, 13 May at the EIT InnoEnergy’s offices in Brussels, Belgium and had 25 renowned participants from industry, businesses, civil society, European Commission and research.
Anna Skowron, World Future Council
Adriaan Slob, TNO
Mariana Heinrich, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Veronika Neumeier, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Louise Coffineau, InnoEnergy
all participants of the workshop