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EU policies on industrial decarbonisation

Net zero target

The EU adopted its net zero emissions target for 2050 in 2021, and included interim targets to cut emissions by 55% by 2030. An ambitious set of policies have since been launched to achieve these targets, including expansions and strengthening of the EU emissions trading scheme, which was the first in the world when set up in 2005. An EU-wide Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which penalises higher-carbon imports in key sectors, has also been introduced. More recently the EU published its vision for CCS deployment and passed the Net Zero Industry Act, which includes a carbon injection capacity target of 50Mt per year by 2030. 

Reduce GHG emissions for oil & gas sectors 55% compared to 1990 levels


Net zero emissions

European Commission
European Commission: Consultation on the role of CCUS in decarbonisation released

The Commission has published an open ended consultation, intended to inform the development of the forthcoming CCUS Communication, which is the EU’s CCUS strategy. The consultation seeks views on the role CCUS technologies can play in decarbonising the EU economy by 2030, 2040 and 2050, respectively and measures needed to optimise their potential, including in the deployment of EU-wide CO2 transport and storage infrastructures. The consultation runs until 31 August and Carbon Clean will develop a responses to the consultation in detail.

Further information: Industrial carbon management – carbon capture, utilisation and storage deployment

Key climate policies
European Green Deal

The European Green Deal sets out ways to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The European Green Deal:

  • Provides a roadmap with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, revert biodiversity loss, cutting pollution and stopping climate change.
  • Outlines the investments that are needed, financing tools which are available and explains ways to ensure a just and inclusive transition.
  • Covers all sectors of the economy, notably transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals.

At least 25% of the EU's long-term budget should be dedicated to climate action, and one of the world's main financiers of climate action, the European Investment Bank, will provide further support.

Further information: European Green Deal 2019

Green Deal Industrial Plan

In February 2023, the outline of the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the EU's plan to remain at the forefront of green technology, was published. 

  • A commitment to a new Net Zero Industry Act, which will set targets for industrial capacity in key low carbon sectors, reduce some permitting barriers to deployment of net zero industry and to set new standards to promote faster roll-out of low carbon technology.
  • Increased flexibility on State Aid rules to allow Member States to eliminate the need for open tenders for less mature technologies, to allow aid to hydrogen, energy efficiency and electrification projects based on a percentage of investment costs, and to allow some low carbon projects to receive more support comparable with those available to similar projects in other markets, such as the US Member States may also be allowed to support new investments in net zero production facilities through tax credits and the overall threshold for State Aid approvals will be raised for hydrogen and CCS projects. 
  • Increased direct funding, including an additional EUR 20 billion for Member State to promote industrial decarbonisation. Member States will also be encouraged to use ETS revenue for hydrogen and CCS projects. 
  • Launching an auction for supporting the production of renewable hydrogen, with winners receiving a fixed premium for each kg of renewable hydrogen produced over the next 10 years. 

Further information: The Green Deal Industrial Plan

Net Zero Industry Act

The Net-Zero Industry Act will create a simpler and more predictable legal framework for net-zero industries in the EU, as part of Europe’s Green Deal Industrial Plan. It will support the EU’s climate-neutrality commitment and the clean energy transition, strengthen the resilience of the EU’s energy system, and contribute to establishing a secure supply of clean energy in line with REPowerEU.

This legislation will help scale up net-zero technology manufacturing in the EU to provide at least 40% of the EU’s annual deployment needs for strategic net-zero technologies by 2030. CCS one of the 8 strategic net-zero technologies supported by this Act.

The proposed legislation includes several CCS specific provisions, including a target of 50m tonnes of CO2 injection capacity to be developed by 2030, to be achieved in part with compulsory contributions from oil and gas producers in the EU, via a variation of a Carbon Takeback Obligation. It also proposes the creation of Net Zero Acceleration Valleys with streamlined permitting and planning regimes, and of Net Zero Industry Academies to develop the skilled workforce needed to support decarbonisation.

Further information: Net Zero Industry Act (proposed)

Industrial Carbon Management Communication

The Industrial  Carbon Management Communication sets out the role for CCUS in decarbonizing Europe and the strategy for realizing this role. Some of its key features are:

  • It forecasts that to meet overall EU emissions targets, 280m tonnes of CO2 will need to be captured annually by 2040, and 450m tonnes by 2050.
  • A call to initiate work on a proposal for a CO2 transport regulatory package, to consider issues including market and cost structure, cross-border integration and planning, technical harmonisation and investment incentives for new infrastructure, third-party access, competent regulatory authorities, tariff regulation and ownership models.
  • To work towards proposing an EU-wide CO2 transport infrastructure planning mechanism
  • To work with the European standardisation bodies to establish minimum standards for CO2 streams to be used in a network code
  • Developing, with Member States, by early 2026 at the latest, a platform for demand assessment and demand aggregation for CO2 transport or storage services, with the aim of matching CO2 suppliers with storage and transport providers and providing contract and procurement transparency
  • Creating by early 2026 an investment atlas of potential CO2 storage sites based on a common storage readiness level format
  • Requiring Member States to include in their updated National Energy and Climate Plans their assessment of capture needs and storage capacity/options and identify actions to support the deployment of a CCS value chain.
  • From 2024 onwards, support the development and roll out of cooperative net-zero strategic projects under the NZIA to create full carbon capture, transport and storage value chains, including across borders
  • Engaging with the European Investment Bank on financing of CCS and CCU projects.
Carbon pricing
The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS)

The EU Emissions Trading System:

  • Set up in 2005, is the world's first international emissions trading system.
  • Operates in all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
  • Limits emissions from around 10,000 installations in the power sector and manufacturing industry, as well as airlines operating between these countries.
  • Covers around 40% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU ETS works on the 'cap and trade' principle. A cap is set on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted through the installations covered by the system. The cap is reduced over time so that total emissions fall. Within the cap, installations buy or receive emissions allowances, which they can trade with one another as needed.

After each year, an installation must surrender enough allowances to cover its emissions fully, otherwise, heavy fines are imposed. If an installation reduces its emissions, it can keep the spare allowances to cover its future needs or sell them to another installation that is short of allowances.

Trading brings flexibility which ensures emissions are cut where it is cheapest to do so. A robust carbon price also promotes investment in innovative, low-carbon technologies.

The EU ETS covers the following sectors and gases:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) from
    • electricity and heat generation,
    • energy-intensive industry sectors including oil refineries, steel works, and production of iron, aluminium, metals, cement, lime, glass, ceramics, pulp, paper, cardboard, acids and bulk organic chemicals,
    • commercial aviation within the European Economic Area.
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) from the production of nitric, adipic and glyoxylic acids and glyoxal;
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) from the production of aluminium.

The recent updates to the ETS agreed upon at the end of 2022 include:

  • The agreement will reduce emissions from the EU ETS sectors by 62% by 2030 compared to 2005 – a substantial increase from the 43% targeted reduction under previous EU legislation.
  • In meeting that target, the speed of annual emissions reductions will also increase, from requiring 2.2% per year reductions under old legislation to 4.3% reductions per year from 2024 to 2027, and 4.4% annual reductions thereafter.
  • The Market Stability Reserve, which stabilises the carbon market by removing surplus allowances, will be strengthened by prolonging beyond 2023 the increased annual intake rate of allowances (24%) and setting a threshold of 400 million allowances.
  • Free emission allowances will be phased out in certain sectors between 2026 and 2034, with the CBAM brought in instead to protect those sectors from carbon leakage (cement, aluminium, fertilisers, electric energy production, hydrogen, iron and steel, as well as some precursors and a limited number of downstream products). The free allowances will be phased-out at a slower rate at the beginning and an accelerated rate at the end of this period.
  • For the first time, shipping emissions will be covered by the ETS. There will be a gradual introduction of obligations for shipping companies to surrender allowances: 40% for verified emissions from 2024, 70% for 2025 and 100% for 2026. The regulation will apply to most large vessels (over 5000 gross tonnages) from the start and will be phased in for smaller vessels.
  • A new separate ETS will commence operation in 2027 to cover fuels used in road transport and heating buildings. The new system will apply to distributors that supply fuels to buildings, road transport and certain other sectors. Emissions will be expected to fall by 5.10% annually on introduction in 2024, and by 5.38% annually from 2028.

Further information: EU ETSFit for 55: reform of the EU emissions trading system

€1 trillion of sustainable investments over the next decade
€503 billion Climate spending under the EU budget from 2021 to 2030
€95.5 billion Horizon Europe funding for research and innovation up to 2027
€38 billion Innovation fund
€10 billion from InvestEU fund for sustainable infrastructure
Innovation fund
  • EUR 10 billion for low-carbon technologies.
  • The first call for large-scale projects had a budget of EUR 1 billion and the second call EUR 1.5 billion. The third call, launched in November 2022, will fund EUR 3 billion.
  • The first call for small-scale projects had a budget of EUR 100 million and the second call for small-scale projects has a budget of EUR 100 million.

Further information: Innovation FundEuropean Green Deal Investment Plan


Other decarbonisation policies

Governments worldwide are introducing policies and regulations to deliver industrial decarbonisation, including the deployment of CCUS. Discover more on specific government action, via the links below.
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