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Rapid reaction: No viable blueprint for a green transition in Commission’s Industrial Strategy

Industrial factory rusty complex interlacing pipes texture

The European Commission has released its revised Industrial Strategy. Despite fine words about the importance of the EU “giving back more than it extracts”, the strategy fails to provide a viable blueprint for a truly green industrial transition based on circularity and binding targets.

Today, the European Commission released its revised Industrial Strategy which seeks to strengthen the resilience of the European Union’s Single Market, to tackle the EU’s dependencies in terms of supply chains and critical raw materials, as well as measures which aim to accelerate the green and digital transitions.

Below is the EEB’s initial reaction to the document.

Circular logic

 We welcome the emphasis on the circular economy business models being at the heart of the industrial transformation. 

However, despite talking up the importance of building a circular economy, the Industrial Strategy fails to square the circle of the current linear extraction model. “Renewable energy and green hydrogen can only go so far towards making European industry climate-neutral,” explains Davide Sabbadin, the EEB’s Policy Officer for Climate and Circular Economy. “Without considerably reducing resource use, the EU’s transition to a circular economy is little more than a pipedream. You cannot bend a value chain that is too thick.”

“To fully achieve the European Green Deal goals the industrial transformation must go beyond technical feasibility measures: transformative actions must be extended through the value chain and engage skilled workforces, new business models based on quality, rethinking products as services, improving ecodesign and transparency,” he adds.

Walking the talk on zero pollution

Without binding pollution and energy efficiency standards for industry, the Industrial Strategy will fail to achieve its ambitions to eliminate pollution.

“We need European policymakers and industry to stop talking the talk about the green transition and to speed up the walk towards delivering zero pollution,” says Christian Schaible, the EEB’s Policy Manager for Industrial Production. “The invisible hand of the carbon market needs a combined carrot-and-sticks approach, including binding pollution prevention and energy efficiency standards.”

The transformation we need to see in industry is not limited to decarbonisation and digitalisation. The Industrial Strategy fails to link up in any meaningful way with the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) review, which is completely overlooked. The IED should outline in concrete terms what is meant by real breakthrough innovation and set out concrete actions for the delivery of the European Green Deal delivery. The IED should be setting the minimal requirements for the decarbonisation and depollution of industrial processes, in particular for energy-intensive industries.

It is not sufficient to recall the importance of the EU being a leader in standard setting without telling us what that means concretely,” adds Schaible.

Governance 

When it comes to good governance, the revised Industrial Strategy fails to upgrade the existing one. The confirmed framework of ecosystems and alliances is, for now, only being used to highlight the needs and capacity of the different industrial ecosystems but there are no sectoral roadmaps and clear intermediate steps for these ecosystems.

The new Industrial Strategy, therefore, fails to define a more general framework to achieve the European Green Deal’s objectives and does not put in place a steering mechanism that can make sure that all efforts carried out within these pathways are aligned with both the pace of action that is required and fair burden-sharing among the different sectors of the economy.