What is it about?

The chemical industry is responsible for 13% of global industrial carbon emissions. We present seven planet-compatible pathways the industry could follow to reach net zero by 2050. We show that, through a combination of demand-side and supply-side strategies, it is possible to transform the chemical sector so that it is a force for environmental good rather than a planetary-boundary-breaking threat.

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Why is it important?

In the drive for a chemical sector with net-zero emissions, much hope has been placed in supply-side technologies like carbon capture or green hydrogen. However, these solutions are still very small-scale and their future development and rollout are highly uncertain. We present seven possible pathways toward net zero that combine these supply-side technologies with strategies to reduce demand, improve efficiency, and increase material circularity. We find that in the most ambitious pathways, the chemical industry could even produce net-negative emissions whilst still meeting societal demand for chemicals.


We are confident that our findings will encourage more research into not only achieving net zero emissions but also transforming the industry into one of few able to provide a dual service to society: chemicals and their utility plus a potential carbon credit.

Fanran Meng
University of Cambridge

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Planet-compatible pathways for transitioning the chemical industry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2218294120.
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