VUB study makes Europe’s non-ferrous metal industry an example of transition to climate neutrality for other industries

VUB study makes Europe’s non-ferrous metal industry an example of transition to climate neutrality for other industries

Report praises the specific Flemish perspective for the industry

A new publication by the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel describes how Europe’s non-ferrous metals industry is at the forefront of the transition to climate neutrality and therefore has a real exemplary function. “In the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Europe’s energy-intensive industries to zero by 2050, the non-ferrous metal industry is a real pioneer. This relatively small industry has already made tremendous progress with a high degree of electrification, circularity and emission reduction. That is a good thing, because the sector is crucial, given the use of metals in climate technology,” says Tomas Wyns, who wrote the report, Metals for a Climate Neutral Europe: A 2050 Blueprint, with fellow IES researcher Gauri Khandekar.

Non-ferrous metals are metals that contain little or no iron. They have many applications in everyday life, such as aircraft construction and lightweight structures, as electrical conductors, in batteries, as protection against rust, and so on. Non-ferrous metals are essential to the future energy transition because they are used in batteries and for the installation of wind turbines.

The non-ferrous metal industry in Europe has already made significant reductions in its GHG emissions, reducing them by 60% between 1990 and 2015. Meanwhile, 58% of its energy consumption has also been electrified, and more than 50% of metals in Europe are produced through recycling, much higher than in the rest of the world.

The non-ferrous industry is also important for Flanders, with the presence of several leading companies. The report praises the specific Flemish perspective for the industry, noting that the region has made great efforts to achieve an industrial symbiosis between the players (through Flanders Metals Valley) and the sector specialises in new technologies for recycling expensive and rare metals in batteries. 

Tomas Wyns specialises in European and international climate policy and the EU Emissions Trading System. Previously, he worked as a climate policy officer for the Flemish government and the European Climate Action Network. The report will play a role in the European Commission’s plans to make Europe GHG neutral by 2050.

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You can find the report at:    


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