01 Feb 2021, 13:47
Benjamin Wehrmann

German industry says 2050 climate neutrality goal attainable – new BDI head


The German industry is confident that the goal of achieving climate neutrality in Europe by 2050 is feasible, Siegfried Russwurm, new head of the influential lobby group Federation of German Industries (BDI), told the business daily Handelsblatt in an interview. "Claims that industry considers this goal unattainable are simply wrong," Russwurm said, arguing that other industry representatives he is in contact with all are in favour of tough climate targets that need technological innovations to be achieved. The focus the new US administration under President Joe Biden puts on climate action further shows that reducing emissions "is not a European spleen," Russwurm said, adding that there is a "broad consensus and enormous economic potential" behind low-carbon technologies. However, he said that constantly announcing new targets by the EU would not be helpful, calling instead for detailed plans on how threatened European industries, for example steel production, could transition into a more climate-friendly future without losing their competitiveness. "Eternal financial support is no solution and neither is relocating production to countries where climate action isn't being taken as seriously yet," Russwurm said, arguing that European companies would therefore need carbon leakage protection. The biggest energy transition challenge, however, would be to achieve a global scale-up of renewable energy installations, not least to produce the volumes of green hydrogen needed to decarbonise industry, he said.

Former BDI head Dieter Kempf in late 2019 called the goal of 2050 climate neutrality "magical thinking," arguing that "politicians are setting ever more ambitious climate goals without bothering to find answers as to how we can achieve them." However, a 2018 flagship study by the industry federation found that rigorous climate action can ultimately benefit German industry, which is regarded a leader in many different low-carbon technologies. However, it also stated that reducing even only near-complete carbon neutrality would only be realistic if other industrialised countries made comparable efforts.

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