ENGIE Impact sits down with Cepi (Confederation of European Paper Industries) to discuss learnings from their latest conference, Paper and Beyond. Industry experts discuss EU climate and energy legislation impacting the sector, the barriers organisations are facing to decarbonise their operations, and the opportunities, technologies, and solutions that are available to help companies reach their Net Zero objectives. Listen to the discussion below.
Transcript preview has been edited for clarity
Stéphane: Hello everyone, welcome to the podcast. My name is Stephane Rapoport and I am a managing director at ENGIE Impact. I focus on decarbonisation challenges in the industrial sectors and I'm here with my Malgosia.
Malgosia: Hello, my name is Malgosia Rybak, I am the Climate Change and Energy Director at Cepi. I'm very happy to be here.
Stéphane: Thank you, and we are also here with François.
François: Hello, I am a director at ENGIE Impact with 20 years of experience with ENGIE and following clients to support them in their decarbonisation journey.
Stéphane: Thank you. So what we want to do here is discuss some key topics that the sector is exposed to right now. And so we've just attended the Paper and Beyond conference which is the leading pulp and paper event on EU legislation. Can you provide us with some feedback on how the sector is progressing in terms of decarbonisation?
François: So first, let me say that it was a very insightful conference. It was the first time I attended. It was really interesting, as it touched on all the aspects of the pulp and paper sector, from forestry to packaging materials, regulation, technologies, and so on. During these two days, I really felt that the industry was moving forward in terms of decarbonisation, which is always encouraging. They were willing to embrace sustainability. Individual companies are, of course, at different stages in the journey but there are a few common elements that all of them mentioned. The first one is the impact of the energy crisis, which pushed companies to accelerate on energy efficiency and find alternatives to natural gas especially. The second one is, that we talked a lot about regulations and European regulations, and the expectations of the different players in this regard are very high. We are waiting to get some clarifications on a few points before they continue moving on. The last one was a bit more discreet, I would say. But I could hear that there is more and more demand from customers to see more sustainable products. So they are ready to pay some kind of a premium to have access to green paper.
Malgosia: Oh, first of all, very happy to hear that you enjoyed Paper and Beyond. A lot of work went into it, especially the session on the launch of our checklist. But I do agree, I think that companies are moving forward. During this term of the Parliament of the commission, there were many shocks to the system starting with COVID, then moving on to the energy crisis. The availability of energy was one of the first problems, if not the price only, and that indeed pushed companies to look for new solutions either to their energy consumption or to find solutions to their fossil fuel consumption. But what was interesting to me since I'm working on policy so much is that our collective progress on our way to decarbonisation was also recognised by the Commission. So our successes in the ETS, how much we were able to cut our emissions which in the ETS system since 2005 is minus 39%. Recognising how advanced we are when it comes to the use of renewable fuels, which is at the moment of the last statistics of Cepi, which we published in summer, was over 60.5% of renewables that we use as primary energy. What was visible at the conference is that even though there were challenges, and I think we talked about those in the last podcast, the direction of travel is clear – contribute to climate neutrality.
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