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Policy Recommendations

Our research-driven, science-based policy recommendations aim to address pressing challenges and opportunities in hard-to-abate sectors. Based on our own analysis and workshops and aligned with industry trends, we aim to identify specific steps that will remove roadblocks and bridge the innovation gaps to reach net zero by 2050. You can find our different recommendations, supporting evidence, and open letters below.

Future Cleantech Architects' Key Policy Recommendations

Policy Recommendations for Innovation

Develop policies to finance early-stage research, offer public credit guarantees to derisk investments in high-risk cleantech ventures, support demonstration projects, and first-of-a-kind facilities, and boost commercialization through facilitated access to capital market, cheaper venture capital and equity, and innovation loan guarantees to address the financing gaps and enable large-scale project developments.

Challenge addressed: High-risk cleantech ventures often struggle to secure funding. Public support can mitigate financial risks, encouraging private investment and accelerating innovation.

Increase resources allocated to Horizon Europe, the Innovation Fund, and the European Innovation Council (EIC) program to support a broad range of technical solutions and enhance financing access for cleantech startups.

Challenge adressed: 35% of the CO2 emissions reductions required to get us to climate neutrality by 2050 come from solutions and technologies that are currently at the early development stage according to IEA.

Encourage the development of circular economy principles by incentivizing the reuse and recycling of materials, supporting innovation in sustainable practices, and implementing policies that promote the use of low carbon alternatives, with a life cycle assessment approach.

Challenge adressed: The new cleantech economy will also generate significant waste and an increase use of new rare raw materials.

Streamline the regulatory framework to facilitate the commercialization of university research, simplify the transfer of intellectual property rights from universities to spin-off companies, and ensure fair compensation.

Challenge addressed: Complicated regulations hinder university spin-offs and the commercialization of innovations.

Use transparent, evidence-based journalism to manage public expectations, maintain support for ambitious climate policies, and counter misinformation about the clean energy transition.

Challenge addressed: Public misinformation and misunderstanding can undermine support and urgent need for climate policies.

For more information see our…

Policy Recommendations for Aviation

Giving priority to new rail infrastructure on high-traffic air routes, implementing fair pricing mechanisms, and ensuring seamless alternative travel options.

Impact of the recommendation: shifting just 17% of flights <1500 km to rail (including night trains) will help eliminate 5% of the sector’s emissions globally. With its high rail connectivity, 80% proportion of electric trains, and 69% traveler willingness to use night trains for flights <1500 km, Europe is a perfect example of the potential for even larger emissions savings by shifting short-haul air traffic to rail.

Removing aviation’s hidden subsidies through proper taxation and reducing the cost gap with alternative solutions.

Impact of the recommendation: A study by Transport & Environment
(T&E) revealed that in 2022, European governments lost out on €34.2 billion of tax revenues from aviation due to inadequate taxation. These actions, if correctly reinvested in innovation, would help accelerate the deployment of sustainable solutions. By way of comparison, the European Innovation Fund’s call for proposals amounted to €4 billion in 2023.

Reinvesting carbon pricing revenues into advancing electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft and boosting SAF production.

Impact of the recommendation: ambitiously deploying all-electric and hydrogen aircraft on feasible flights <4000 km by 2050 will help reduce the sector’s total warming impact, which includes in-flight CO2 and non-CO2 emissions as well as upstream emissions, globally by 17%. As the share of emissions from flights within this range is similar between the EU and globally, this measure is expected to achieve similar levels of emissions savings within the EU.

Implementing strict compliance measures and ensuring target feasibility considering limited resource availability (from renewable electricity to green hydrogen and sustainable biomass).

Impact of the recommendation: deploying SAFs to the levels outlined in ReFuelEU Aviation, if achievable, will help cut the sector’s total warming impact on the planet by ~38% by 2050.

By advancing weather monitoring systems and integrating flight rerouting measures into air traffic management.

Impact of the recommendation: As we saw in recommendations 3 and 4, ambitiously deploying all electric, hydrogen and SAFs together could reduce aviation’s total warming impact by 55% by 2050. Additional contrail avoidance measures will help cut the sector’s total warming impact by another 15%. The combined impact of these measures is a total 70% reduction by 2050. Remaining warming impact is associated with upstream and other non-CO2 emissions.

For more information see our Aviation Policy Brief, our Policy Brief on Book and Claim, and our Aviation Factsheet!

Policy Recommendations for Structural Efficiency and Green Construction

There is vast and neglected potential for structural efficiency to significantly reduce demand for construction materials, whether concrete, steel, or timber, through improved structural efficiency.

Challenge addressed: Reducing material use significantly cuts costs and emissions. Historically efficient structures, such as cathedral vaults, demonstrate that it is possible to achieve strong, durable buildings with less material.

We need to systematically collect and report data on structural efficiency for buildings, similar to energy efficiency appliances. It is also necessary to make the disclosure of CO2 emissions intensity mandatory.

Challenge addressed: Measurement is essential for improvement. Systematic data collection will enable engineers to design not only safe but also efficient buildings, while using modern tools (such as algorithms, robotics, and off-site manufacturing with on-site assembly) to reduce labor costs and construction times.

Minimize waste by focusing on dismantling for reuse, extending the lifespan of structures, optimizing construction, and using lower carbon alternatives for new materials.

Challenge addressed: Construction materials constitute 40% of European waste. Shifting to a circular economy reduces inefficiencies and environmental impact.

Switch from prescriptive to performance-based standards to foster innovation in low-carbon materials and structural efficiency.

Challenge addressed: Prescriptive standards limit innovation. Performance-based standards open the market to a wider range of solutions, promoting sustainability throughout the building lifecycle.

Set clear sustainability criteria and quotas for publicly funded construction projects to drive market demand for green products and cleantech. It is worth noting that even with a high premium on the cost of “green” materials, the impact on the total cost of the final building is actually low, so the wider market should be able to absorb this premium. These new criteria require building administrative capacity at the local level for effective implementation.

Challenge addressed: Public procurement can create a significant market pull for sustainable products, helping to scale up green technologies and materials.

Implement Carbon Contracts for Difference (CCfDs) to de-risk low-carbon technologies, providing firms with a fixed CO2 price and thus encouraging large-scale industrial investments. arbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) could be included in future auctions to also test their feasibility and effectiveness in real-world conditions.

Challenge addressed: CCfDs reduce financial risk for innovative technologies, facilitating their adoption and scaling. Ensuring a two-way mechanism and addressing both CAPEX and OPEX are critical for their success.

For more information see our…

Policy Recommendations for Green Hydrogen

Focus on decarbonizing current hydrogen applications and redirect resources from sectors that can be more efficiently decarbonized without hydrogen, such as cement, electricity generation, domestic heating, and road transport.

Challenge addressed: Significant energy losses occur at various stages of hydrogen production and utilization, from the initial energy input to the final hydrogen output. This makes direct electrification a more efficient and cost-effective option where feasible.

Deploy green hydrogen in sectors where it is indispensable, such as refineries, petrochemicals, ammonia production, methanol production, and primary steelmaking, before expanding to nascent sectors like shipping and Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

Challenge addressed: green hydrogen is a critical feedstock for hard-to-abate industries that have high hydrogen demand and limited alternatives for significant emissions reductions. It is scarce and should be deployed where it will deliver significant climate benefits and effectively reduce industrial emissions.

Invest in R&D to improve the efficiency, durability, and cost-effectiveness of green hydrogen technologies. In order to reduce the green premium, new technologies and their inputs must become more cost-effective on the one hand and the CO2 emissions from traditional production routes must be priced more consistently on the other. The EU should also explore alternative hydrogen production methods, such as nuclear and solar thermal and new electrolysis techniques as they hold the potential for further advancements and efficiency gains. 

Challenge addressed: technological advancements are necessary to make green hydrogen more competitive with fossil fuel-based hydrogen and to facilitate its broader ad

Develop infrastructure, including pipelines and shipping routes from producing countries, and regional distribution networks from production sites and import ports to bring it to the end consumers, and convert existing gas pipelines to operate with hydrogen where feasible.

Challenge addressed: hydrogen’s low energy density by volume makes transportation and storage challenging and expensive.

Expand renewable energy capacity, as green hydrogen production is energy-intensive, requiring significant amounts of clean electricity, which currently exceeds available capacity.

Challenge addressed: Around 65% of the cost of green hydrogen is operating costs, of which 75% is renewable electricity required for the energy-intensive process of electrolysis (these values are highly dependent on local electricity generation costs).

use demand pooling, green hydrogen offtake agreements, as done at the EU level with the hydrogen bank auction, and public support mechanisms to attract investment and mitigate risks that give producers the security they need.

Challenge addressed: due to the low supply and the considerable additional costs compared to hydrogen from fossil fuels, the demand for green hydrogen is also limited. Conversely, this means that potential producers of green hydrogen currently lack a secure sales market to justify investments. In many cases, hydrogen projects also have too high a risk profile and funds flow into other projects that have a better risk-return profile. Projects in Africa or Latin America are often subject to a risk premium by financial stakeholders from the EU, and therefore have significantly higher capital costs than comparable projects in Europe, even though ideal production conditions prevail. It is therefore necessary to jointly find new ways to hedge risks better and thus reduce capital costs.

As stated in the EU delegated act on hydrogen, green hydrogen can only use “additional” amounts of renewable electricity that would otherwise not be used1. Also, green hydrogen must be low carbon when considering its entire life cycle, covering not only the energy mix or transportation emissions but also hard-to-measure emissions from leakage or infrastructure construction. However, the EU’s rules for domestically produced and imported green hydrogen will only start in 2028.

Challenge addressed: green hydrogen production could divert renewable energy from the grid. So in order to create a well-functioning and efficient green hydrogen market, market participants must be able to rely on clear market standards.

For more information see our…

Read our Future Cleantech Priorities