In view of the European Union’s ambition to move to a low-carbon economy by 2050, the European salt industry is convinced it can make a positive, meaningful contribution towards that goal. Engaging further in sustainability provides opportunities for innovation, hence remodelling industrial development and supporting a new type of economic growth. We need to ensure a workable legislative framework by raising awareness about the salt industry’s contribution to a sustainable economy and calling for an integrated vision of industry development in Europe.
On 6th June 2013, the European Salt Producers’ Association (EuSalt) held a roundtable discussion on ‘Visions for a Green Future’ in Cracow, Poland. The debate moderated by Sonja van Renssen (ViEUws) gathered representatives from energy- and environment-focused consultancies and institutes, as well as from the salt and lime industries, and addressed an international audience. It aimed to identify perspectives and viable options to achieve a greener economy, and identify the role of the European salt industry in the EU energy and environment roadmaps.
With regard to the EU Energy 2050 Roadmap, Dr. Felix Matthes (Öko-Institut) stated the importance of a long-term vision to check for the consistency of policy, which speaks for transparency and predictability. The roadmap puts great emphasis on re-organising Europe’s energy mix, increasing the share of renewables (especially solar and wind) and incentives for further energy efficiency. Mr. Amit Gautam (Booz & Company) explained further the many opportunities lying in sustainability, not only environmental but also economic and social.
It is therefore essential for any industry to think through its own long-term future, i.e. draw up a 2050 roadmap, thus clarifying its interests, identifying no-regret options and formulating demands and suggestions to policymakers (Dr. Matthes). It further requires to ensure cross-sector collaboration and proactive work towards favourable legislation (Mr. Gautam).
From an industry perspective, it is clear that there is no alternative to sustainability (Mr. Peter Kuijpers, EuSalt). Even though this aspect has not been so prominent so far, the industry must seek opportunities to innovate. The ‘energy transformation’ debate must be reframed in a positive way.
The participation of China’s salt industry in the debate showed that climate and energy are not only a concern to Europe. In China, the salt sector is not wary of climate policy, which ‘has encouraged us to innovate and reduce emissions’ (Mr. Mao Qingguo, China National Salt Industry Corporation). China sees huge potential in market demand for the many applications of salt. There again, innovation and investments in new technologies is the key to energy savings.