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A new study on the wider environmental impacts of industry decarbonisation

European Commission
Date: 
16 Mar 2021

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EU

Industry faces major challenges with regard to handling the transition to an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As yet, we are far from fully understanding the potential wider environmental impacts of this transformation. Furthermore, we are largely unaware of the untapped potential of industrial facilities in sectors covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) to contribute to the circular economy.

The study aimed to provide an initial overview of the potential wider environmental impacts of industry's transition within the scope of the IED to a low carbon economy, and to gain a better understanding of how IED facilities could contribute to a circular economy. The study compiled information from literature and stakeholder consultations.

The results illustrate the variety of types of technologies and their potential impact on greenhouse gas emission reductions, covering both innovative and more established technologies. There are significant uncertainties in terms of direct and indirect environmental impacts, often related to the maturity of the decarbonisation technologies. The study concludes that many IED facilities have made considerable progress in resource efficiency and circular economy. However, IED application will not magically improve circular material use.