Report: “Urgent action” needed to create a sustainable model of operation for chemical industry

A new report identifies the need for radical interventions on both supply and demand sides for the chemical industry to operate within planetary boundaries.

A new report published by Systemiq and the Center for Global Commons at the University of Tokyo says that the chemical industry has the opportunity to become an enabler of a sustainable global economy, double in size and create 29 million new jobs – but without dramatic and urgent change, the industry aligns with 4 degrees of global warming by 2050 with “catastrophic consequences” for the planet.

The Planet Positive Chemicals report provides an unprecedented blueprint for the future of the chemical industry, which is worth $4.7 trillion dollars in annual revenues and provides the chemicals that are essential to all sectors of the economy from packaging and consumer goods to construction and fertilisers.

It says the industry currently has multiple harmful impacts on our planet, including high carbon emissions and pollution, and its action on climate is currently lagging behind other sectors.

As chemical products are used across all downstream industries, other sectors of the economy cannot reach net zero without mitigating the climate impacts of the chemicals value chain

Without urgent action, the industry faces reputational and regulatory risk and may lose its social license to operate, the report warns.

Conversely, by building a more sustainable, low-emissions operating model, which is eminently feasible by scaling current technologies, the industry can reinvent itself as a climate solution – becoming carbon negative by early 2040s and acting as a carbon sink by 2050.

Paul Polman, Business leader and campaigner, former CEO of Unilever, said: “Transformational leadership is critical to the delivery of our global sustainability goals. We urgently need courageous business leaders who profit by fixing the world’s problems rather than creating them – and this report is a clarion call to the chemical industry to do just that.”

The report identifies the need for radical interventions on both supply and demand sides for the industry to operate within planetary boundaries.

It aims to help industry and policymakers unite around a common view of the path ahead and accelerate the transition to a sustainable model of operation.

It suggests ten key actions that could transform the system, including establishing a global charter of transition principles and a first-movers coalition to seed markets for net-zero chemicals.

Send this to a friend