Europe is paving the path to become “the home of cleantech and industrial innovation on the road to net zero”. This is what Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, declared in her speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos and then she outlined the four pillars on which the EU planned to incentivize green industries over the coming years: the regulatory environment, financing, skills and trade.
The regulatory environment aspires to support the quick deployment of net-zero manufacturing capacities. The focus point is on “speed and access” and the Commission president pledged a new Green Deal Industrial Plan, which aims, not only to enhance the competitiveness of Europe’s net-zero industry, but also to support the fast transition to climate neutrality. The later will be achieved by fast-tracking and simplifying permits for climate tech production sites.
Key element of the Green Deal Industrial Plan is the Net-Zero Industry Act that aims to create a simplified regulatory framework for production capacity. The product sectors mostly targeted by it are batteries, wind-turbines, heat pumps as well as technologies including solar, electrolyzer and carbon capture and storage. This suggests that the Commission intends to build on existing initiatives, such as the proposed Batteries and Waste Batteries Regulation and legislative proposals forming part of its Hydrogen Strategy.
Another interesting factor is the pillar of skills. Ms. von der Leyen stated that “the best transition is only as good as the skilled workers that operate it.” According to EU calculations, if the Green Deal targets are met, 2.5 million additional jobs will be created by 2030. This means that there will be an employment growth of 1.2%, both directly in clean energy sectors as well as in supporting industries.
This creates a great challenge both for business and the workforce and the only answer is upskilling and targeted education on issues of sustainability, ESG, net-zero and circular economy. Governments, companies, industry organisations and professionals will require to invest in new programmes of education, certification and vocational training, along with targeted upskilling or reskilling programmes on sustainability.
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