Industrial Emissions Directive
The European chemicals industry is committed to the European Green Deal, and for our industry reducing industrial emissions is one of the central targets. The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) has been recognised as a valuable and effective tool by the European Commission for achieving this goal. The latest environmental data has shown the level of pollutants emitted by the EU chemical industry has dropped significantly over the past years. For instance, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have declined by 53% since 1990 and acidifying emissions have fallen by 70% since 2007. And we are working with all stakeholders to further improve this.
For the last decade, our industry has worked with the European Commission, NGOs and national governments, to develop new emission rules. And in 2022, a proposal for an updated Industrial Emission Directive was released, revising the IED Directive adopted in 2010.
We support the policy goals of the new proposal; to protect the environment and people’s health from the adverse effects of pollution. Yet its practical implementation as foreseen in the current Commission’s proposal risks creating more hurdles, adds more uncertainties, and risks slowing industry’s transformation towards the 2050 goals. We want to see more support for EU industry competitiveness because a thriving EU chemical industry is instrumental for the success of the European Green Deal.
Our industry is undergoing a double twin transition, as it goes climate neutral, circular, digitalise, while implementing the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, all in less than 30 years Against an already very challenging backdrop for European industry, companies need clarity and certainty to invest in Europe and European solutions now. Even longer permitting processes as foreseen in the current proposal will not bring the EU Green Deal forward.
10 point action plan for an effective revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive
Read our 10-Point Plan where we call to bring much-needed clarity to the practical aspects of the new IED. In summary:
Permitting procedures need to be shortened, simplified and realistic
Permits are our industry’s license to operate. They support developments on health and safety as well as reducing emissions to air, water and land and the generation of waste. We have seen significant improvements in these areas, and we are determined to do more. Yet aspects of the proposed Directive risk slowing down the permit process and even blocking permits completely.
The new proposal moves from a system based on ranges of emission levels to operating at the strictest emission levels. And also changes environmental performance levels, being water, energy, waste and materials, from non-binding to binding. While our industry is committed to continuously reducing its emission levels, what the new Directive proposes is not always compatible with existing technical reality and feasibility.
We call on the new proposal to maintain the ranges of emission levels and to enable national authorities to make decisions that support the best overall environmental impact, taking into account technical and economic feasibility. Permitting authorities also need guidance to know which area to prioritise. So that the IED can continuously improve emission and environmental performance levels at the same time.
Support Europe’s innovation agenda and its front runners
We fully support Europe’s innovation agenda. And we want to see more front runners raising the bar on innovation. The IED encourages the use of newer and less tested “Emerging Techniques” than those considered a “Best Available Technique”. Yet it proposes just two years before the associated emission levels of the Emerging Techniques become binding. Consider that for our industry, it takes 6 – 10 years for a new technology to be developed and implemented. To really encourage investments, operators need more clarity on the consequences if the Emerging Techniques do not meet emission compliance levels after the derogation period has passed.
We want the IED better support innovation, by proposing a fit-for purpose timeframe to test and develop the most promising technologies. Only after this, should they be considered in the permitting scope. Front runners need more certainty to invest, and the current IED proposal does not offer clarity on the implications of their investments.
Safeguard EU businesses’ know-how and introduce additional administrative burden only if it benefits the environmental protection
Our top priority is to reduce industrial emissions and improve overall environmental performance. To remain focused on this goal, businesses need the necessary safeguards to ensure sufficient levels of protection and all new requirements should remain focused on delivering this end goal.
For instance, the new IED proposal opens up its significant amounts of confidential business data to broader stakeholders. As an industry that invests about 9 billion euros per year in research and development, internal know-how of cutting-edge innovations is one of our assets and helps us stay competitive. We therefore believe that granular data must only be accessible to civil servants bound by secrecy agreements.
The new IED also proposes to reverse the burden of proof in case of private damage claims. Yet proving innocence in case of contribution to damage is close to impossible and also in conflict with national rules of evidence.
Finally, with new EU requirements comes additional administration. We believe it is important to justify whether these requirements actually benefit the environment and human health. The new IED proposes management systems to be required for every installation, which goes against well-established company best practices to manage such systems at corporate level, and results in increased administration.