essenscia: chemical industry is at the forefront of energy and climate transition

Essenscia sector federation responds to a report by three NGOs in which industrial companies are accused of a lack of sustainability.

The chemical sector produces the essential materials necessary for a climate-friendly economy and society and has been an international pioneer for more energy efficiency and less CO2 emissions for years. The joint report issued by Arbeid en Milieu (Labor and Environment), Bond Beter Leefmilieu and Greenpeace organizations lacks basic economic logic, ignores the global context of the climate challenge and deliberately brushes aside the many voluntary initiatives and commitments of the sector. The Essenscia sector federation deeply regrets this because everyone ultimately shares the same goal.

Because what is the crux of the matter? The climate transition will not be possible without the products from the chemical sector that is at the start of numerous industrial value chains and thus help greening many other sectors. This vision is shared by the European Commission, which gives the chemical industry a key role in its climate policy. The sector supports the ambition of the Paris climate agreement and has been doing the deed for decades. Between 1995 and 2015, greenhouse gas emissions in the Belgian chemical and life sciences sector halved. Doing even better is a gigantic challenge that requires a lot of innovation and investment. However, the sector takes full responsibility in Flanders and Belgium. For example, consortia of chemical companies in the ports of Antwerp and Ghent are investigating the construction of infrastructure for the capture, storage and reuse of CO2. The largest industrial steam network in Europe that supplies green heat to chemical companies? That is also in Flanders.

"You should expect environmental organizations that closely follow climate policy to be better aware of all the efforts that Belgian industry is making. Of the Moonshot innovation program that, in collaboration with the Flemish universities and scientific institutions, should deliver breakthrough technologies for a climate-neutral industry, establishing BlueChem, an incubator for innovations in sustainable chemistry and circular economy that is unique in Europe. Such innovations are, of course, long-term work, but it is hard to deny that chemistry is taking the lead in the industrial transition", says Els Brouwers, Head of energy, climate and economy at essenscia.

The support measures that environmental organizations criticize are part of a policy to maintain the international competitiveness of our economy and are similar to what other countries do. This also makes it possible to attract new investments, with the associated jobs and prosperity, which just ensure that the chemical industry in our country produces with the most modern and environmentally friendly installations. Chemicals and life sciences - which account for a third of Belgian exports - are more than ever the locomotive of our economy and companies in the sector are fully innovating for a sustainable future. Instead of head-on attacks with a populist tendency, environmental organizations would therefore consider this forward-looking sector as an important ally in the international approach to the climate challenge. We are open to a constructive dialogue based on the fundamental basic principles of sustainability: a balanced and mutually reinforcing balance between people, the environment and economic prosperity.