Milestone for the Transition to Sustainable Carbon in the European Chemical Industry

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The Dutch minister for the environment Vivianne Heijnen presented “A Call for a European Sustainable Carbon Policy Package”.

The Dutch government collaborated with Member States France, the Czech Republic, and Ireland to develop a joint statement to accelerate EU efforts to turn the chemical industry into a sustainable sector. This statement was presented for the first time to the Commission, Member States, and industry leaders on April 16, 2024, and handed over to the European Commission, represented here by European Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra, who heartily supported the proposal. It was the first time that European lawmakers delivered a report on the DE fossilization of the chemical sector, urging the Commission to take bold action and develop a long-term vision.

For years, industry associations have advocated for a level playing field between the energy and fuel sectors, where the transition away from fossil fuels is strongly supported by various instruments such as quotas, and the chemicals and materials sector, where no comparable incentives exist.

The Renewable Carbon Initiative developed the notion of defossilization in 2020. This involves replacing fossil carbon in chemicals and materials with biomass, CO₂, and recycled materials. Ms Heijnen delivered the following statement, which was a long-awaited milestone for various initiatives and associations in the chemicals and materials sector.

“In our statement, we argue the necessity for an overarching European legislative framework to achieve the transition from fossil to sustainable carbon feedstocks in the chemical sector. Such a framework is necessary to ensure the European chemical sector’s long-term competitiveness while also transforming it into a truly sustainable industry.”

The chemical industry can and should become a driving force in achieving both the EU‘s circularity and climate goals, all while also reducing the dependence on foreign actors. That means it must not only look at reducing emissions from its own processes, but also at using alternative feedstock sources than the largely dominating fossils.

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