The EU executive’s Net Zero Industry Act and Critical Raw Materials Act, both part of its Green Deal industrial plan, are designed to ensure that the Union is not only a leader in reducing carbon emissions but also in the aforementioned technology. There are signs that it is overdue.
Global investment in the green transition should triple by 2030 from $1 trillion last year, the commission said.
“The action is that we want to be leaders in the green industry of the future”, said Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis in a press conference.
The EU leadership has set the region a target of extracting 10% of the critical raw materials it consumes, such as lithium and, for the first time, copper and nickel, with recycling adding 15%. It also aims to increase refining to 40 percent of its needs by 2030.
Supplying the minerals needed for the green transition is a challenge, as China processes almost 90% of rare earth metals and 60% of lithium, a key element in batteries.
The Commission announced that no more than 65 percent of the main raw materials could come from a third of the countries.
“We are not a resource-rich continent,” said Dombrovskis, adding that Europe depends on a small number of partners for many materials.
“This is not a stable or reliable way to build the industry of the future. So we need to diversify quickly.”
Russia’s attack on Ukraine reinforced a lesson learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely that the EU cannot rely on a single supplier of essential materials.
The EU executive would recognize plans for mining or processing raw materials as “strategic projects”, which would allow them to benefit from simplified permits and access to financing.
Regarding trade, the EU aims to expand its network of partnerships with, for example, Australia, Canada, and Chile.
Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Siemens Gamesa, the world’s largest offshore turbine manufacturer, said the critical raw materials law could boost European industry’s need for responsible mining supply chains.
“Regulatory frameworks like this are important; we need to act fast now and enforce them.”
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The EU has also set a target to produce at least 40 percent of the products it needs for zero-energy technologies such as solar by 2030. energy or fuel for tools, in part through increased permits for green projects.
Blokki also announced that it aims to recycle 50 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030. Carbon dioxide capture is one of the net-zero technologies recognized by the EU. Arguably, they also include advanced kernel processes.
BusinessEurope described the proposal as “limited” and said the EU should recognize that reducing Europe’s carbon emissions is a priority for the economy as a whole.
Another industry group, WindEurope, said the proposals did not explain what financial support the EU would provide for the massive expansion of turbine production or how governments would use flexible new rules to support it.
Colin Mackey, director of Rio Tinto’s European operations, said he was satisfied with the critical raw material but still had a long way to go to meet expected demand.
Swedish mining and smelting group Boliden said Europe needed a lot of work to recover from a bad start, with major copper and nickel projects a priority.