Report from the High-Level Group on Energy-Intensive Industries:
In December 2015, parties to the Paris Agreement committed jointly to keeping the global temperature increase to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In November 2018, following the invitations by the European Parliament and the European Council, the European Commission presented its Strategic Vision “AClean Planet for all”. This has contributed to an EU-wide informed debate with other institutions and stakeholde in view of adopting and submitting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) a long-term strategy by 2020, as requested under the Paris Agreement.
The Political Guidelines for the next European Commission 2019–2024 of the new Commission Presidentelect confirm this political commitment, proposing a “European Green Deal” that should make Europe become the first climate-neutral continent and a European Climate Law to enshrine the 2050 climate-neutrality target into law. The guidelines recognise that this transition should
be just, leaving nobody behind. The Political Guidelines also contain several other important commitments that are relevant to energy intensive industries such as the declaration of a zero-pollution ambition and the announcement of a new European industrial strategy and a new Circular Economy Action Plan2. In March 2019, the European Council invited the Commission to present a long-term vision for the EU’s industrial future with concrete measures to implement it, addressing the chall r better implementation and enforcement of Single Market rules3.
The European Commission is currently preparing the response to this invitation. Several initiatives contribute to this work, including the Strategic Forum for Important Projects of Common European Interest4, the Industry 2030 high level industrial roundtable5, the Technical Expert Group on sustainable finance, the Commission assessment of the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans, the strategic plan for Horizon Europe and the High Level Group on Energy-intensive Industries (HLG EIIs).
In light of the climate crisis, the European Forest-Based Industries, including the pulp, paper and other fibre-based product industries, the woodworking industries, the producers of furniture, the bio-energy sector and the printing industry, have come together to present their vision of the European society in 2050 and the essential role that they can play, delivering on the carbon neutrality goal.
The Forest-Based Industries (FBI) will provide the most competitive and sustainable net-zero
carbon solutions. They will do that by:
• substituting CO2-intensive raw materials and fossil energy with forest-based alternatives
• eradicating waste and boosting recycling with a sector target of at least 90% material collection and 70% recycling rate for all wood-based products
• driving resource efficiency and enhancing productivity in all areas including materials, manufacturing and logistics
We will maximise the use of recycled fibres. Our paper products are easily recyclable and effectively recycled across Europe; the recycling rate of paper is already 71.6% today. As we can meet the society’s current and future needs with non-fossil materials, we anticipate a growing demand for wood and wood-based products that we expect to be translated into FBI market growth of 3% annually.
Our vision is also supported by the European forest owners, farmers, parquet industries and agricultural contractors. While the implementation of this pioneering vision needs to overcome some hurdles, such as the need for accepted recyclability protocols at European level, new technological solutions that will radically change production processes, and a shortage of skilled workforce or market distortions, we plan to deepen our existing partnerships.
We will boost innovation through applied research and innovation programmes such as the Forest-based sector Technology Platform, and engage in market development, to ensure our innovative solutions are attainable for consumers in their daily lives.