“Only by working across borders can we make green industry a reality”

In an open letter, Bellona Europa, Natuur & Milieu, Fluxys, Port of Antwerp, North Sea Port, Holcim België NV, Benelux Business Roundtable, Smart Delta Resources, TotalEnergies and Clean Air Task Force call on the Dutch, Belgian and German governments to cooperate more and better on making heavy industry climate friendly. "Cross-border infrastructure is essential for achieving climate goals," says the special coalition, which emphasises the need for a shared vision for capturing and permanently storing CO2 emissions.

No less than 18% of European emissions come from the production of base materials such as cement, steel and chemicals. A large proportion of these base materials is produced in the industrial cluster that extends across the Netherlands, Belgium and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This cluster provides thousands of jobs and produces products that are key blocks in implementing the green transition, for example steel and concrete for wind turbines. In order to fulfil their societal role and combat climate change, these companies must align themselves with European climate targets. At the same time, European and national governments need to provide industry with the necessary infrastructure.

Only effective via a combination of measures

NGOs, companies and government agencies recognise that there is no single perfect solution for drastically reducing industrial emissions in the coming decades, but that a combination of measures is needed.

"We must focus on energy efficiency, circularity, industrial electrification with renewable energy from solar and wind as well as capturing and storing CO2 underground," says Laurien Spruyt, Senior Climate and Industry Policy Manager at Bellona Europe. "An effective future plan for industry requires action in all these areas, coupled with a financial strategy and the rollout of appropriate infrastructure."

Role for CO2 capture and permanent storage

Switching to green technologies is not always feasible for all sectors, which is why capturing and storing CO2 emissions is also necessary, say the signatories to the letter. The captured CO2 will then be transported to and permanently stored in the empty oil and gas fields under the North Sea.

"This requires cross-border transport infrastructure (pipelines, ships, trucks, trains), CO2 capture infrastructure in all countries involved and storage infrastructure in the Netherlands. It is critically important that Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany jointly work out a vision and roadmap for this,", says Laurien Spruyt, Senior Climate and Industry Policy Manager at Bellona Europe.

In addition to devising a specific plan, the signatories also want legislative barriers removed, targeted funding provided for climate initiatives and links created with other industrial clusters in Germany and France.


The open letter was signed by: Aramis, Bellona Europa, Bellona Germany, Benelux Business Roundtable, Bundesverband der Deutschen Kalkindustrie, Carbon Collectors, Clean Air Task Force, Energie Beheer Nederland, Fluxys, Gasunie, General Electric, HeidelbergCement, Holcim België NV, Lhoist, Natuur & Milieu, Natuur en Milieu Federatie Zuid-Holland, North Sea Port, Port of Antwerp, Port of Rotterdam, Porthos, Shell, Smart Delta Resources, TotalEnergies, Victrol and Verein Deutscher Zementwerke (VDZ).

Pascal De Buck, CEO of Fluxys : "Fluxys works with an overall approach towards ensuring the development of the necessary decarbonisation infrastructure across Belgium and into neighbouring countries. We have mapped out the needs together with industry. Today, specific proposals are on the table for industrial clusters in Antwerp, Mons, Charleroi, Ghent and Liège to have the first CO2 infrastructure in the ground by 2026. Close cross-border cooperation between governments is critically important in order to continue down this path in a coordinated fashion and achieve climate gains with industry as quickly as possible."

Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port: "To achieve climate goals in Europe, industries must work together across borders on CO2 reduction and CCS. This will be done wherever possible in the North Sea Port cross-border port cluster. As a port, we know that doing this requires dialogue. We call on all parties involved to conduct this dialogue on solutions with and between governments. This way we can move step by step towards decarbonising industry.”

Martijn Verwoerd, Project Manager at Carbon Connect Delta: "Smart Delta Resources (SDR), the cross-border collaboration platform for industry in southwest Netherlands and Flanders, is committed to reducing the cluster's carbon footprint by 11 Mt/a by 2030, the majority of which will be achieved via CCS. International transport networks, European legal frameworks, standardisation of infrastructure across borders and aligned EU-wide funding mechanisms are key priorities for SDR's Carbon Connect Delta CCS programme to successfully achieve the region's carbon reduction targets."

Cedric de Vicq, CEO of Lhoist Europe: "For industries emitting large quantities of CO2 from their raw materials, the contribution to carbon neutrality depends intimately on the availability of and access to a vast network of infrastructure for the collection of CO2 and the distribution of a much larger quantity of electricity. These are the new roads of the future."

Lee Beck, International Director of Clean Air Task Force, Carbon Capture: "Industrial decarbonisation has long been a blind spot for Europe's climate. We urgently need to commercialise carbon capture and storage technologies that are essential for reducing process emissions from industry, especially from cement production, which accounts for about 8% of global emissions. Building a shared carbon infrastructure will help us achieve economies of scale, engage more industrial players and drive the decarbonisation of industry. A CO2 network in the ARRRA cluster can serve as a model for similar carbon management nodes across Europe and globally."

Eric ter Hark, Chairman of the Benelux Business Roundtable: "To achieve the climate targets for 2030 and 2050, cross-border infrastructure for the transport of CO2, sustainable gases and renewable electricity is needed. This infrastructure connects industrial clusters around ports in Belgium and the Netherlands, both with each other and with inland clusters in the Benelux countries, the Ruhr region and northwest France. Removing barriers to cross-border infrastructure and making the best use of available assets will unlock the region's huge potential to lead the energy transition in Europe. This should be a top priority and identified and resolved in a public-private task force mandated by the highest levels of government"

Philip Nuyken, Head of Energy and Climate Policy at the German Lime Industry Federation: "The way forward for the limestone industry is clear: our energy use will come from renewables, while two thirds of our emissions will come from the limestone itself, leaving CCS as the only option for hitting our climate targets."