ECRN was recently selected as part of the first circle of core members of the Just Transition Platform Working Group on Chemicals. The first meeting of the Working Group took place on 18th November 2021 and was dedicated to introducing the objectives and members of the Working Group, as well as the main challenges and topics of discussion that will guide its activities.
Working Group objectives:
- Support a just transition in carbon-intensive regions.
- Support the European Commission and carbon-intensive regions in developing a common transition vision and approach.
Expected outcomes and deliverables:
- Scoping paper: it will outline the challenges and bottlenecks identified within the priority theme(s) of the WG for the following phases. It should be ready by April 2022.
- Draft Implementation Plan.
- Final Implementation Plan: it will present the set of actions to be implemented by the WG.
- Actions: one or more Action Leaders will lead the implementation of each action.
- Meetings: the WG chemicals will meet twice a year.
The role of the members of the first circle (ECRN):
- Contribute to the conceptual development and drafting of the above-mentioned deliverables:
- Develop actions and lead their implementation.
- Actively participate in and contribute to the WG meetings.
- Initiate collaboration with other members and JTP WGs.
- Provide inputs for the other JTP WGs and activities (e.g. JTP events).
State of play of the EU chemical sector:
- High level of direct and indirect employment: 95% of companies are SMEs and there are strong links with other value chains.
- Energy-intensive industry, highly dependent on climate change and energy policies.
- Push for transformation with the recent Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability supporting innovation for the green transition and the EU Clean Hydrogen Alliance.
- New technologies enable the transformation towards a climate neutral economy: power to heat, hydrogen, and chemical recycling.
- Difficulty in economic diversification and restructuring of the sector due to a highly concentrated organisation.
- Key new technologies used within the chemical sectors (e.g. biomass, hydrogen-fuelled processes) require further education and training of the workforce.
- Risk of progressing gaps between large enterprises and SMEs in the implementation of the green and digital transformation.
- Need to ensure a smooth job transition for affected workers and address skills gaps.
- Challenge for the new jobs being created to compensate for job losses at an equivalent level.
The main challenges for achieving a just transition in the chemical sector are (the most important one according to the WG members are in bold):
- Investing in re- /up-skilling and new jobs
- Attracting investments to change / modernise infrastructure
- Shifting from fossil fuels towards C-free energy sources
- Developing adequate support funding mechanisms
- Ensuring availability of renewable energy
- Including local communities in policy planning
- Lack of technological maturity among SMEs
- Ensuring the competitiveness of the industry
- Lack of framework for industrial strategy at the regional level
- Transition towards circular economy
- Demanding transition targets for 2030
- Regulatory challenges (CSS)
The most important topics to discuss within the WG Chemicals are (the most important ones according to the WG members are in bold):
- Financial resources and investment programmes
- Education and training of the workforce and society
- Pathways for phasing-out of fossil feedstock
- Support mechanisms for new technologies
- Effective social dialogue and workers participation
- Innovative technologies supporting carbon emission reduction
- Principles of allocation of financial and other support via JTM
- Assessment of regional impacts of decarbonisation
- Transition towards Circular-Carbon-Economy
- Regulatory changes
- Sharing knowledge sharing and best practices within the sector
- Assessment of regional challenges of SMEs
- Investment needs of the sector
Composition of the JTP WG Chemicals:
- Emma Argutyan – European Chemical Employers Group
- Monika Bańka – ECRN
- Kalin Borissov – Bulgarian Chamber of Chemical Industry (BG)
- Angela Dibenedetto –Interuniversity Consortium on Chemical Reactivity and Catalysis (IT)
- Rudiger-A Eichel – Forschungszentrum Julich GmbH (DE)
- Gianluca Maria Farinola – University of Bari (IT)
- Alexandru Kelemen – Associatia Umanitara Kandila (RO)
- Athanasios Konstandopulous – European Cluster Alliance
- Mirosław Miller – Town Hall Wałbrzych (PL)
- Maike Niggemann – IndustriaAll European Trade Union
- Virgilijus Radvilas – Mazeikiai district municipality (LT)
- Jean Luc Wietor - European Environmental Bureau
- Daria Bostjancic – Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Association of Chemical Industries of Slovenia (SI)
- Marius Brazlauskas – Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (LT)
- Juozas Tunaitis – SC Achema (LT)
- Gerwin Wiersma – Province of Groningen (NL)
- Tomasz Zieliński – Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry (PL)
- Krassimir Berbenkov – Bulgarian Chamber of Chemical Industry (BG)
- Iliana Pavlova – Bulgarian Industrial Association (BG)
- Heinrich Pecina – Austrian Mining and Steel Association & Austrian Non-Ferrous metals Federation (AT)
- Iris Rieth – IN4climate.NRW (DE)
- Aleksander Szpot – Instrat Foundation (PL)
- Cvetancka Tudorova – Branch Association Polymers (BG)
- Bernd Vogler – Arbeitgeberverband Chemie Rheinland Pfalz e. V. (DE)