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Taking Action in the EU to Create a Sustainable Chemical Industry

A group of four EU Member States — the Netherlands, France, Ireland, and the Czech Republic — are proposing an overarching long-term European policy framework to achieve the transition from fossil to sustainable carbon feedstocks in the chemical industry. More supportive member states are expected to join this proposal soon, as it provides a clear pathway without alternative to ensure the transition towards a modern and globally competitive chemical industry in Europe while also achieving sustainability and net-zero targets. 

To take swift action at the EU level to transform the chemical industry into a sustainable sector, the Dutch government worked on a joint statement together with Member States France, the Czech Republic, and Ireland. The Joint Statement is a milestone and a significant opportunity to limit Europe’s external dependencies while moving closer to European climate and environmental goals. The statement was presented on April 16, 2024, and handed over to the European Commission, represented by European Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra. It was the first time ever that European politicians presented a paper on the defossilisation of the chemical industry and asked the commission for strong action and a long-term vision. The concept of defossilisation was first introduced by the Renewable Carbon Initiative in 2020 to replace the fossil carbon embedded in chemicals and materials with biomass, CO2, and recycled materials.

Vivianne Heijnen said about the joint statement, “In our statement we propose that an overarching European policy framework is needed in order to achieve the transition from fossil to sustainable carbon feedstocks in the chemical sector. Such a framework is essential if we’re to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the European chemical industry, while at the same time transforming it into a truly sustainable industry.”

Heijnen presented a clear strategy on how to make the transition to a competitive, circular, and climate-neutral chemical industry, “We, the initiators of this joint statement, are convinced that we need an overarching European policy framework. An EU policy package that focuses on market creation, sustainable carbon availability, and instruments to strengthen the competitiveness of the chemical industry. First of all, market creation is essential to boost demand for and supply of sustainable carbon products. Effective incentives that take into account all three sustainable carbon sources — recycled materials, sustainable biomass and CO2 — can drive this market. […] Besides market creation, careful attention needs to be paid to the availability of sustainable carbon to help companies transition to these sources. To maximize availability, the member states are calling for a sustainable carbon availability strategy, in line with the Waste Framework Directive and the EU bioeconomy strategy.”

To learn more, visit www.renewable-carbon-initiative.com.

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