Most of modern life relies on the chemical industry and its products. From toothpaste to the fertiliser used to grow breakfast cereals, almost all the chemicals in these products come from fossil fuels and cause greenhouse gas emissions. So why has the chemical sector received such little attention in the climate debate?
As the use of fossil fuels for energy and transport diminishes, the chemical industry will feature as an increasingly important part of oil and gas companies’ business models. Worryingly, the sector lacks a comprehensive vision for achieving net zero carbon emissions. The main industry trade body and its members have set out a target to reduce emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 but there is not a detailed plan to achieve this.
Changes to the whole economy need to be well underway to avoid devastating climate impacts. A clear direction for the chemical industry urgently needs to be set by government. This report suggests three overlooked areas where greater focus and policy support would put the industry on track for net zero.