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ARTICLE25 November 2021

EU industrial emissions directive risks hampering industry’s climate transition

A broadened EU directive regulating industrial emissions risks being a setback for industry. In its current form, the directive works well and creates environmental benefits. It is therefore important to safeguard the directive’s effectiveness as it is revised, writes Jenny Svärd who is responsible for environmental policy at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

The EU Commission is accelerating the pace of the green transition. 180 proposals have been tabled relating to innovation, energy, climate, circular economy, and amendments to the existing industrial emissions directive. Photo: Valeria Mongelli

December 2019: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveils her “Green Deal” – the EU’s toolbox for combating climate change and transforming the bloc into a sustainable economy.

A key aspect of the transition is the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) that affects 1,200 Swedish facilities in around 30 sectors. To date, IED has been successful. Among other things, the directive requires industrial companies to use the best available technologies to reduce emissions into air and water.

The European Commission is now taking steps to accelerate the pace of the green transition. Intensive work is underway with new legislation and changes to the existing IED. 180 proposals have been tabled relating to innovation, energy, climate, circular economy, as well as bringing new activities and sectors into the IED.

Business believes that the content of the final draft of the directive and how it is implemented here at home will determine how these proposals will affect Swedish companies.

Industry representatives fear that a new, expanded directive – along the lines of the proposals that have been presented – could become cumbersome and jeopardize the green transition and the progress that industry has already made.

Already slow and unpredictable processes could become even more complicated in terms of permit applications, for example. Requirements for reporting to supervisory authorities and the risk of double and overlapping regulation cost time and money and add to companies’ regulatory burden.

Lars Hjälmered, (Moderate Party), chair of the Swedish parliament’s Business Committee. 

During a panel discussion, the chair of the Swedish parliament’s Business Committee, Lars Hjälmered (Moderate), and deputy chair Anna-Caren Sätherberg (Social Democrat), discussed the revised IED with Jenny Svärd, responsible for environmental policy at Swedish Enterprise.

The participants agreed that [the proposed changes] risk creating greater difficulty and bureaucracy and stressed that an extended, more detailed directive must not be a hindrance to companies that invest heavily in achieving climate goals. Innovation and development must be considered.

This is not only an environmental issue. It is also a business policy issue, which is why business policy has a key role in the revision of the directive.

Jenny Svärd, responsible for environmental policy at Swedish Enterprise.
Photo: Ernst Henry Photography

- The EU Commission’s proposal is riddled with details that increase regulation. From a Swedish point of view, it should be about making things as simple as possible instead, said Hjälmered.

The European Commission wants the new directive to apply to more sectors: battery manufacturing, beef and chicken production, fish farming on land, mines and quarries are some examples. 

According to Svärd, it is difficult to develop common rules for industries with specific local conditions.

– We should also consider how including many more sectors will affect the effectiveness of the directive. The directive works well today, and it needs to be protected, Svärd said.

Anna-Caren Sätherberg, (Social Democrat), deputy chair of the Swedish parliament’s Business Committee.

Hjälmered agreed, citing specific hydrological and geographical conditions in comments about the mining industry.

– I’m sceptical about a regulation for the mining industry. We already have a lot of laws and regulations in this area, nationally and internationally. It is important to think and think again before doing something in this area.

He also said that the European Commission should also give extra thought to batteries.

– I’d rather see strict recycling requirements for future battery production in Sweden and the rest of Europe, he said.

The European Commission is expected to submit a proposal for a revised directive for industrial emissions in March next year. A Swedish position will subsequently be formulated.

Svärd concluded the panel discussion by emphasizing how important it is to have a holistic perspective and not change what works well.

– Swedish Enterprise looks forward to continued co-operation with the Business Committee on this issue, she said.

EUClimate
Written byJenny Svärd
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