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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

27 May 2020 – Explore the key elements of the EU Industrial Strategy and the Circular Economy Action Plans that can help drive forward the decarbonisation of industry in alignment with net zero emissions by 2050 whilst simultaneously strengthening the competitiveness of EU industry.

Download the policy briefing

EU industrial strategy and CEAP business briefing

On 10 March, the European Commission published its new Industrial Strategy which sets out a future direction for European Industry, together with measures that can support industrial decarbonisation. An integral part of Europe’s Green Deal, the Industrial Strategy builds upon the previous EU Industrial Strategy that dates to 2017, focusing on ensuring the competitiveness of European industry in view of digitalisation and achieving climate neutrality. The Industrial Strategy is complemented by the European Commission’s new Action Plan on the Circular Economy (CEAP). Published on 11 March, the CEAP sets out a number of initiatives to strengthen Europe’s industrial base while reducing the material footprint of products and assisting in achieving climate neutrality.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that has resulted underlines the importance to business of having a clear approach to industrial decarbonisation and the need for an ambitious Industrial Strategy and CEAP to focus investment into more sustainable business practices.

This CLG Europe business briefing synthesises key elements of the Industrial Strategy and CEAP and includes a series of recommendations to ensure an EU policy framework which:

  • Achieves net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Creates a circular economy and new markets for low carbon materials
  • Accelerates clean innovation
  • Establishes a multi stakeholder platform to oversee the implementation of the new Industrial Strategy
  • Preserves EU industry competitiveness

The report builds on CLG Europe’s policy briefing; Forging a carbon neutral heavy industry by 2050: how Europe can seize the opportunity, which set out four key approaches to reduce industrial emissions to net zero by 2050 at the latest.

CLG Europe is a select group of leading European businesses, with a membership representative of Europe in both geography and sector. CLG Europe members have come together to work with policymakers and business peers to support stronger ambition and effective, accelerated action on climate change within the EU and globally. The group’s work is aligned with the Paris Agreement and in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The guiding mission of CLG Europe is to develop credible, ambitious positions amongst its membership and deploy effective strategic communications, thinking and action to engage with the highest levels of policy audiences and the wider business community. It acts to strengthen climate change policy and drive it into practice, both in Europe and, working with others, around the world.

CLG Europe is convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

Citing this briefing

Please refer to this publication as University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2020). How the EU Industrial Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan can support the decarbonisation of European industry, Cambridge, UK: CLG Europe.


We would like to thank CISL Fellows Polina Yaseneva and Anna Barford, Johanna Lehne, Policy Advisor at E3G and CLG Europe members for their helpful and constructive comments.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of the Corporate Leaders Groups, CISL, the wider University of Cambridge, or its clients.



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