Bringing the European economy to zero emissions by 2050 is possible but will be likely costly since it will require new production processes and a major increase in short-term capital investments. A new study by Material Economics concluded that achieving net-zero economy was “within reach”, only one investment cycle away. “Different industrial strategies and pathways can be combined to achieve net-zero emissions,” says the study by 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 stipulates. Steel, cement and chemicals are heavy users of fossil fuels and they account for about 14 percent of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions. They are thought of as “hard to abate” industries since they operate with high-temperate heat for industrial processes that depend on liquid or solid fuels that in turn make emissions during the process of burning.
Since 2012, industrial emissions have been levelling off in the bloc but are not expected to go down until 2030. Around the world, heavy sectors account for a big share accounting for about a third of global CO2 emissions, whereby they are only projected to increase in the future as the world economy continues to grow. In this light, Europe is taking a leadership position in the global decarbonization efforts. “Energy intensive industries are the backbone of the European economy and are well placed to deliver key inputs to the low-carbon transition,” Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, commented.