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Litmus test for chemical sector decarbonisation

The chemical sector is a ‘hard-to-abate’ industry seeking a clear pathway to decarbonisation. Joanne Beatty identifies some of the key challenges and opportunities.

Chemicals are essential inputs for many industries, with chemical use pervasive and entrenched in the modern world. But like the steel industry, the chemical sector is considered “hard-to-abate”, meaning that the solutions to reduce emissions are either technically challenging, prohibitively expensive, or both.

Decarbonisation of the energy sources used to generate the heat, steam and power needed for compression, cooling and other processes in chemical manufacturing will require access to abundant, reliable and cheap alternative sources of energy. However, alternatives to fossil fuels, such as green hydrogen and electrification, are not yet cost competitive compared with current production processes.

We engage with some of the world’s largest chemical companies on their decarbonisation pathways and ambitions. We co-lead collaborative engagement with LyondellBasell and Air Liquide as part of Climate Action 100+ and have participated in ShareAction’s recent campaign to accelerate climate action for European chemical companies. We also engage with companies on end-market demand.

Chemical companies face a challenging transition, but the sector may benefit by developing processes and products that are less carbon dependent or intensive. Many low-carbon technologies rely on innovations in chemistry to become more efficient, affordable and scalable – for example, the sector provides materials for solar photovoltaic systems and wind turbines.

Read the full article in our Q1 2022 Public Engagement Report.

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EOS Client Service and Business Development

Amy D’Eugenio,
Head of Client Service and Business Development, EOS