Policy Design for a Climate‐Friendly Materials Sector

Materials are central to our economies but their production also dominates industrial greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore difficult to envisage how Europe can reach an 80-95% emission reduction target without significant emission reductions from the materials sector.

While some efficiency improvements and fuel shifting to lower carbon inputs have been achieved in sectors such as steel and cement, they amount to only modest reductions. The large, and necessary, mitigation potentials linked to break-through process technologies, new materials, and more efficient material use remain largely untapped.

The Climate-Friendly Materials project aims to explore what elements need to be put in place to allow for large scale emission reductions from material production through developing a portfolio of innovative processes and materials and providing incentives for their efficient use.

The emission mitigation opportunities requires a coherent combination of the three elements:

  • Plausible technological pathways;
  • Strategically oriented private sector decisions;
  • Robust and credible regulatory policy framework.

The project will address the broad question of: what policies are necessary for the materials sector to successfully innovate and subsequently adopt new low-carbon technologies?

The project will bring together researchers from different disciplines, as well as participants from the industry.

The project launched in June 2016, co-led with DIW Berlin.


The first workshop was held in Brussels in September 2016. The agenda and selected presentations are available for download from our event page.

The second workshop was held in Berlin in January 2017. Further information can be found on our event page. All presentations are available for download.

We held a side event at the 46th session of the UN Subsidiary Bodies  in May 2017, in Bonn. Further information is available on the event page.


The first project report, published in January 2017, is available to download. It outlines policy developments that can allow all actors in Europe to benefit from climate friendly choices on producing, using, and re-using basic materials.