Minister Pinkwart launches "IN4climate.NRW" initiative for sustainable and climate neutral industry

Düsseldorf. How can the industrial sector in North Rhine-Westphalia maintain its competitiveness and generate further growth while also contributing towards achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement? Over the coming four years, under the umbrella of "IN4climate.NRW", experts from companies and economic associations, science and governance will be developing the strategies needed to address this issue. Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Professor Andreas Pinkwart is presenting this initiative, which is the first of its kind in Germany, to the Cabinet today.

Minister Pinkwart at NRW State Press Conference
Minister Pinkwart at NRW State Press Conference MWIDE NRW

Minister Pinkwart: "North Rhine-Westphalia is a proud industrial state which, over the past century and a half, has generated a multitude of innovative products that are used all over the world. Our shared responsibility for achieving international climate protection goals means that we need to strengthen this innovative spirit and to continue developing our state into a sustainable and climate-friendly industrial location that can keep up with the strongest competitors in the world. Today we have launched the IN4climate.NRW initiative to trigger the necessary springboard innovations."

In this context, industrial companies, scientists and the state government will work in “innovation teams” to develop new visions of the future and ways of ensuring carbon-neutral manufacturing and the production of climate-friendly products. New production processes that cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions could be an important key for a future-proof industrial sector in North Rhine-Westphalia – especially against the background of rising prices for emissions certificates. In steel production, for example, the process gases that arise could be converted into chemical products, and coking coal could be replaced by hydrogen, which would significantly reduce­ CO2 emissions.

Andreas Goss, CEO of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe: "The IN4climate.NRW initiative is an important step towards bringing policymakers, industry and scientists from NRW together in order to develop the best solutions for a climate-friendly future. Steel is not part of the old economy, but is a high-tech industry and indispensable for the mega trends of energy transition, mobility and urbanisation. At the same time, we are shouldering our responsibility for climate and environmental protection and investing more than 100 million euros a year in this area at thyssenkrupp Steel alone. We are open to technology for continued transformation towards even more significant reductions in­ CO2 emissions and we are closely examining various ways of making our production even more climate-friendly. We are delighted to be able to share this experience as a founding member of the IN4climate.NRW initiative and to help shape the transition towards a low-carbon future."

Dr Klaus Schäfer, Head of Production at Covestro AG: "There are many studies on whether and to what extent we could achieve carbon neutrality in Germany. We must find ways of achieving this goal whilst further developing our globally competitive industry. We are participating in this initiative because, especially for NRW – one of the largest industrial regions in the world – industrial value creation is the basis for our prosperity but also for the research and development of solutions for climate protection. The chemical industry, in particular, can and will provide answers in this area."

The industrial companies are receiving support from the state government, which is working intensively to create an innovation-friendly environment – and from the scientific community which is also part of the process.

Professor Manfred Fischedick from the Wuppertal Institute: "New innovative products and processes and increased cross-sector collaboration are needed in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy-intensive industrial sector, which accounts for around 20 per cent of overall emissions. These kinds of concepts do not arise in day-to-day industrial operations nor do they emerge exclusively in the laboratories and on the desks of the scientific community. IN4climate.NRW offers the necessary platform and the freedom to generate pertinent ideas, to give specific stimulus to their development and to examine their implementation in a competitive environment, in close collaboration with the industrial sector and scientific community."

With this new initiative, the state government is taking a new approach to combining the resources needed to make North Rhine-Westphalia a sustainable and long-term climate-neutral industrial location. To this end, the former KlimaExpo.NRW, which showcased projects, will be further developed: IN4climate.NRW is intended to stimulate good projects which make a real contribution to climate protection and then promote this approach. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is financing the initiative, which is initially planned for four years, with funds amounting to 16 million euros (including scientific support). IN4climate.NRW is intended to mobilise German government and EU funding amounting to tens or hundreds of millions to support innovative industrial projects.

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