How resilient and climate-friendly domestic value creation can succeed.
After the successful studies climAconsum (2017) and climApro (2019), the next follow-up study climAresilience has now been published. For over a year, the authors of the Institute for Industrial Ecology (IIÖ) and the Institute of Industrial Sciences (IWI) investigated how the resilience of domestic production chains can be strengthened against the backdrop of international distortions caused by Covid-19 and the climate and environmental policy challenges in Europe.
The Covid 19 crisis and the stricter EU climate targets are leading to major upheavals in the economy and posing immense challenges for the entire industry. The transformation towards a CO2-neutral economy entails both opportunities and risks for the individual sectors. But the changes do not only affect the companies, but also their employees and the state through changes in fiscal and social contributions. There are also effects on the value added of upstream and downstream sectors. The recently published study "climAresilienz", prepared by the Institute for Industrial Ecology (IIÖ) and the Institute of Industrial Sciences (IWI), therefore examines the adaptability and innovative strength of domestic industry under changing conditions such as: additional climate protection measures, change to a bioeconomy or additional digitalisation. In the paper industry, the production chains "graphic papers" and "packaging papers" were tested for their resilience in various scenarios.
The paper industry is feeling the changes, especially due to the increasing pressure on its most important raw material, wood. On the one hand, there are more and more calls for forest areas to be put out of use in order to preserve biodiversity or as a CO2 reservoir. On the other hand, the demand for wood as a renewable raw material, as a basis for bio-based products and renewable energy is increasing.
In principle, both the wood and the paper industry can benefit from a transformation towards the bioeconomy. This form of economy offers many bio-based alternatives to fossil products and processes, from packaging to building materials, to feedstocks for the chemical industry or food industry. It uses all components of the raw material wood and can rely on a well-functioning recycling system. According to a German study, waste paper fibres, i.e. wood fibres that have already been processed once into paper, can be recycled up to 25 times.
However, if the shift towards a bioeconomy leads to an uncontrolled demand for wood, this can lead to production bottlenecks. In the area of renewable energy, this can consequently lead to a resort to fossil energy sources, or in the case of packaging, to fossil-based variants. Lack of cascading use of wood and market distortions due to one-sided subsidies, lead to exacerbated market distortions and further increase the pressure on wood as a raw material. Ensuring the availability of raw materials for bio-based production chains is therefore a top priority. The study authors therefore recommend measures in the area of wood mobilisation and sustainable forest management. The targeted use of certain product ranges and the longest possible recycling of biogenic raw materials will ultimately further secure the supply.
The study ties in thematically with the previous studies. In addition to location policy recommendations, it also contains calculations on how future scenarios (accelerated climate policy, increased bioeconomy, digitalisation, crises, ...) will affect domestic value creation, fiscal revenues, employment and CO2 emissions. This should also create more awareness among the public and politicians that we are all affected by resilience effects in industry.
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