The European Commission on Thursday will present the centrepieces of its strategy to ensure its industry can compete with the United States and China in making clean tech products and accessing raw materials required for the green transition. The EU executive’s Net-Zero Industry Act and Critical Raw Materials Act, part of its Green Deal Industrial Plan, are designed to ensure the bloc is not just a frontrunner in cutting carbon emissions, but also ahead on the technology required to do so. There are signs it is lagging.
Global investment in the green transition is set to triple by 2030 from $1 trillion last year, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament on Wednesday “The race is on,” she said.
The EU will set a target of producing at least 40% of the clean tech products it needs by 2030, partly by streamlining the granting of permits for green projects and by fostering investment. The Commission will propose simpler state aid schemes, allowing subsidies to promote green technology, with the possibility of offering tax breaks and using existing EU funds.
The EU executive will also make proposals to enable the region to mine 10% of the critical raw materials it consumes and increase processing to 40% of its needs by 2030. The supply of minerals vital for the green transition is a challenge, with China processing almost 90% of rare earths and 60% of lithium, a key element for batteries.
“These minerals power phones and electric vehicles, chips and batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. They cannot function without critical raw materials,” von der Leyen said. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reinforced a lesson learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely that the EU cannot rely on a single supplier for essential materials, be it personal protective equipment, oil and gas, or materials required in the green transition, von der Leyen added. ($1 = 0.9488 euros)