European Parliament unravels net-zero industrial policy with costly giveaways and a new attack on nature

The European Parliament today voted on a Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) that supports the interests of a long list of industries rather than prioritising climate front-runners. Civil society laments that reduced environmental standards and an expanded list of strategic technologies, with controversial additions, will ultimately undermine the effectiveness of the law. 

The European Commission tabled the NZIA as tool to support domestic manufacturing of green technologies helping the EU meet its 2030 climate targets. The position approved today by the European Parliament not only does not account for such goals, but also raises several concerns about stretching NZIA resources, disregarding public participation, and attacking biodiversity and nature.

Parliament’s proposal to include expensive experiments, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or nuclear power, in the list of strategic technologies deviate EU resources and efforts from readily available and proven solutions to costly distractions.

Specifically, an overemphasis on CCS as a panacea for all industrial emissions is misguided. Given its cost, unproven results, and extended deployment timeline, it should only be considered for emissions that cannot be directly avoided. Similarly, the inclusion of nuclear energy and small modular reactors, as costly and unproven solutions, threatens to waste taxpayer money without offering strategic support to EU industry. In essence, if everything is deemed important, nothing truly is.

Furthermore, a majority of MEPs voted for allowing industrial clusters to be set up in Nature 2000 areas and industrial projects to be approved without any public authorities checks through tighter deadlines and tacit approval rules. While careful consideration of the placement of new manufacturing sites is essential, designating natural areas as potential locations appears unfounded and an unjustified attack on nature.

The European approach is to achieve more with less, demanding precise actions. As the discussion now shifts to the Council, civil society implores EU decision-makers to refocus the NZIA on proven and short-term solutions, aligning with its environmental and strategic objectives.

Riccardo Nigro, Senior Policy Officer for Zero Pollution Industry at the European Environmental Bureau said:

“Mr. Ehler’s XIX century dream of a totally deregulated industry is simply going to turn into a nightmare for communities and nature. Deregulation will not revive European industry. Instead, rules and clear priorities can spark the manufacturing of clean technologies in harmony with well-established EU nature and public participation laws. It is a pity that today the European Parliament decided to second such a short-sighted approach. We count on the other co-legislators to fix this scar during negotiations.”

Luke Haywood, Policy Manager for Climate and Energy at the European Environmental Bureau said:

“Europe needs cost-effective and strategic net-zero technologies, not nuclear. Granting nuclear energy the same access to financial and administrative support as renewables, heat pumps, and grids would divert scarce and precious resources from faster and cheaper solutions for decarbonising the EU. We urge EU lawmakers and member states to focus public support on solutions that exist and work now.” 

Notes for editors:

Joint NGO statement on Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA)

What Europe needs in the race for the industry of tomorrow


European Parliament unravels net-zero industrial policy with costly giveaways and a new attack on nature
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