Date: 16 July 2021
With yesterday’s release of the so-called Fitfor55 package, the European Commission does not fall short of its ambition. In a video reaction to the package, Bertrand Cazes, Secretary General of Glass for Europe, defined this ‘a turning point and a remarkable moment for a sector like ours’ [the flat glass sector].
Philippe Bastien, President of Glass for Europe and Regional President of AGC Glass Europe, explains: “In this journey [the EU climate-neutrality journey], high-tech glazing will play a crucial role to renovate ageing buildings, to support the clean mobility transition and to increase the share of solar energy. In Europe’s flat glass sector, we stand ready to make this essential material available while developing novel ways to lower our own industrial emissions”.
Among the dozen of legislative proposals released by the European Commission, Glass for Europe is particularly supportive of measures which have the potential to support the market uptake of CO2 avoiding products, such as measures aimed at boosting energy efficiency and renewables in both buildings and transport. Among others, Glass for Europe welcomes:
- The proposal to increase the energy efficiency target and to make it binding at EU level as proposed in the proposal on the Energy Efficiency Directive.
- Both articles 6 and 8 of the EED, which respectively extend the requirement to renovate public buildings and increase the level of ambition for energy savings obligations, which can be leveraged to increase rates of building renovation.
- The increase in funding potentially available for building renovation through several instruments, including funds coming from the EU Emission Trading Scheme and the New Social Climate Fund.
- The proposal to increase to 40% the target of the Renewable Energy Directive.
- The bold ambitions in terms of lowering CO2 emissions from passenger cars and other vehicles, yet technological neutrality should be preserved.
- Additional funds made available to support innovation in low-carbon manufacturing, for example through the EU ETS innovation fund.
- The careful introduction of a trial phase for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, with progressive phase-in and provisions designed to avoid opportunistic trade flows, that will have to be tested before the inclusion of other sectors may be envisaged, including that of the flat glass sector.
While a clear political direction is provided with this package, Bertrand Cazes stresses ‘that some fine-tuning will be needed (…) for example to make sure this framework supports our industry’s efforts to reduce its manufacturing emissions’. In this respect, some provisions of the EU Emissions Trading System may need improvement to ensure that frontrunners are not penalized and that sectors are thoroughly protected against the risk of carbon leakage. In the same vein, a recast Energy Taxation directive should continue to provide an exemption for ‘mineralogical processes’.
In the field of building policy, Glass for Europe calls on extreme vigilance with regards to the extension of the EU ETS for buildings. While it may generate funds for building renovation, citizen’s buy-in for the measure should remain a pre-requisite.
Based on this first assessment and strong of the experience gathered when developing its vision ‘2050; Flat glass in a climate-neutral Europe’, ‘Glass for Europe will work in the coming months to make sure today’s legislative package does trigger a virtuous decarbonisation cycle’ concluded Glass for Europe’s President, Mr Philippe Bastien.