EU drafts plan to zero out industry’s carbon footprint by 2050

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has drafted plans to capture and store hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 emissions by 2050 to ensure industries can meet Europe’s climate change goals, a draft document showed.

Achieving the EU’s 2050 net zero emissions target will require companies to switch to green energy and change their production methods. For sectors lacking the technologies to do this, their remaining emissions will need to be captured, to avoid them reaching the atmosphere and fuelling global warming.

By 2050, the EU will need to capture up to 450 million tons of CO2 per year, according to a draft European Commission plan, seen by Reuters.

“By the same date, most of the remaining emissions from EU industries will have to be captured and stored, in particular from the cement and the chemical sectors,” the draft said.

The EU emitted 3.6 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2022, official data show.

Most CO2 captured in 2050 would be permanently stored underground. Some would be used in industrial processes like chemicals manufacturing.

The draft said 100 million tons of the CO2 captured by 2050 would be in the power sector, from power plants running on CO2-emitting fossil fuels or “biogenic” sources like organic waste.

The EU would need to capture up to 200 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere directly, to balance out some remaining emissions in 2050, the draft said.

Chris Davies, director of campaign group CCS Europe, said a lack of political support has left the EU playing catch-up to quickly scale the technology. The EU has no operating CO2 storage projects.

“Most governments simply have done their best to put this on the ‘too difficult’ back burner,” said Davies, a former EU lawmaker.

The Commission declined to comment on the draft document, which was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The draft said building carbon capture and storage infrastructure this decade would require both EU and national funds.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; additional reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Christina Fincher)