Moving Towards Climate-Friendly Materials
The global production of raw materials accounts for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Policies that address the materials that are used for the manufacture of products are therefore decisive for the de-carbonisation strategies of all countries within the European Union. In national discussion rounds in Poland, Hungary and Spain, the “Climate-Friendly Materials Platform” project of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) brought stakeholders from various sectors to a round table. All three countries are facing similar problems regarding the de-carbonisation of the raw materials sector.
Carbon leakage as a problem
Representatives from industry and NGOs met with political decision-makers in Warsaw, Budapest and Madrid to discuss common approaches to de-carbonisation. The participants advocated congruent European and national solutions to reduce emissions in the long term. In all three countries, industry and politics are particularly concerned about transferring CO2 emissions to countries with less stringent requirements (carbon leakage). Europe-wide solutions could reduce this risk.
Different focal points were set for discussion at each venue. In Warsaw, the participants discussed the limited access to large quantities of zero-emission energy. This deficiency complicatesd the low-emission production of materials. The stakeholders also discussed consumer taxes and border carbon adjustments (BCAs) as possible solutions to carbon leakage. In the case of BCAs, importers of certain products would have to issue CO2 certificates that complied with European standards. In general, the participants were interested in a stronger Europe-wide cooperation in the field of research and development.
The Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology hosted the Budapest Round Table, where the discussions focused on the political background. A representative of the ministry mentioned that Hungary was currently lagging behind in the achievement of its energy efficiency targets. Policy measures to date were not having the desired impact. However, participants from industry feared the negative consequences of higher electricity prices for the domestic economy.
Demand for European solutions
In Madrid, the participants primarily discussed national and European challenges and solutions. Spain is currently discussing the ‘Ley de Cambio Climático y Transición Energética’ (Climate Change and Energy Transition Act), which is intended to transpose European climate targets into national legislation. The Spanish stakeholders also expressed concerns that strict European regulations could lead to the migration of production to non-European countries. They agreed that uniform European and national solutions and rules could counteract this. Furthermore, they called for a European industrial transition strategy that considers different regional and national transition pathways. At the round table, it became clear that national and European solutions would have to include a change towards a holistic circular economy. Concrete solutions could differ depending on the material and product.
The “Climate-Friendly Materials Platform” supported by EUKI enables the exchange of experiences about strategic options and joint political measures for the de-carbonisation of the materials sectors. The project is being implemented by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). Project partners are Wise Europe (Poland), the Institute for Technology Research of the University of Comillas (Spain) and the Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research REKK (Hungary). The European Climate Initiative of the German Environment Ministry (BMU) finances various projects for sustainable economy in the EU. The objective is to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement and the EU 2030 goals.