German heavy industry demands financial support for ambitious climate goals
Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire
The German government’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2045 has put companies from energy-intensive industries, such as steel, chemicals, paper and cement, under massive pressure. The sector is now calling for a concrete strategy and financial commitments from political leaders, Klaus Stratmann and Silke Kersting write in Handelsblatt. Martin Brudermüller, CEO of German chemical giant BASF, complained to the newspaper that the government had tightened the climate targets “without a plan how to do it.” Bernhard Osburg, CEO of Thyssen-Krupp Steel Europe, is calling for the establishment of a government-backed fund to support the transition of heavy industry towards climate-neutral technologies. The government has promised aid and drafted a programme, but hardly any money has flowed so far. “The challenge of remaining globally competitive and achieving the climate protection goals is enormous,” said Roland Harings, CEO of Aurubis, Europe’s largest copper producer and one of Germany’s largest consumers of electricity. “We will only be able to achieve this through intensive political support and the right framework conditions.” Dominik von Achten, head of HeidelbergCement, one of the world's largest building materials companies, said long-term planning security was crucial for the transition’s success. To that end, he is counting on political support for the construction of infrastructure necessary for the transport of hydrogen as well as for scaling up technologies for CO2 reduction and capture. Climate protection experts echo the need for political support. The goal of a climate-neutral industry can only be achieved through resolute policies that take the right measures, said Patrick Graichen, executive director of Agora Energiewende*. “It is important to unleash the expansion of renewable energy sources, to establish a green hydrogen economy in industry and to promote efficiency technologies. A clever further development of CO2 pricing can also drive climate-neutral innovations and ensure competitive electricity prices in the long term,” he added.
In related news, BASF and German energy company RWE last week announced a partnership on a new project aimed at making industrial production sustainable. The plan envisions a two-gigawatt offshore wind farm that would provide BASF’s chemical site in Ludwigshafen with green electricity and enable CO2-free production of hydrogen. The endeavour would electrify production processes for basic chemicals, which are currently based on fossil fuels. “Realising this plan will require a suitable regulatory framework,” BASF stated in its press release.