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How the European chemical industry could become carbon neutral by 2050


19 Jul 2017


Innovation & Enterprise

Brussels, 19 July 2017 – The chemical industry’s ambition is to play a leading role in the transformation of the European economy to a low-carbon and circular one by creating innovative climate and energy friendly solutions for its own processes and for many other industries through chemical products. A new report Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry released today explores how the chemical industry can become carbon neutral by 2050.
Marco Mensink, Cefic Director General, said: “Many promising low-carbon technologies are available at a relatively advanced stage of development. The industry will need to find the way to overcome the investment, raw material and energy challenges for them to be implemented on a large scale in Europe.”
Kurt Wagemann, Executive Director of DECHEMA said: “The implementation of the technologies investigated in this study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions of the chemical industry by 2050 even under the least ambitious scenario.”
The DECHEMA study analyses the technological options available for the chemical industry and outlines the conditions necessary to facilitate the transition of the European chemical industry to carbon neutrality. Besides giving a first full overview of all available technologies for the main chemical production processes, it describes what is needed to refurbish the industrial base we know today in Europe, in a world full of shale gas and low oil prices:

  •     Abundant low-carbon electricity in much larger volumes and at competitive prices;
  •     Availability of alternative feedstocks (e.g. bio-based raw materials, CO2 or industrial waste gases).
  •     An enabling fiscal structure to modernise ageing production facilities and equipment or build new plants;
  •     Government or public-private support to scale-up technologies and share investment risk for those technologies that are first of a kind or high risk
  •     Innovation and research into new chemical technologies that help overcome these challenges.
  •     Enabling business models to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration to find sustainable ways to re-use CO2

The chemical industry has already halved its energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, but producing chemicals remains one of the most energy intensive industrial processes. Making the sector carbon neutral while retaining its competitiveness in a full circular economy in Europe is a significant challenge, which cannot be solved by the industry on its own.

About the report: The report Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry, prepared by the German Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA) and released by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) looks into technology options and pathway scenarios to ensure low-carbon, yet competitive European chemical industry by 2050. The study focuses on the main chemical building blocks used in upstream large volume production processes (ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, chlorine and the aromatics benzene, toluene and xylene), which represent about 2/3 of all GHG emissions of the chemical sector.

For press inquiries please contact Irene van Luijken; +32 2 676 72831 or

Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, founded in 1972, is the voice of 29,000 large, medium and small chemical companies in Europe, which provide 1.2 million jobs and account for 14.7% of world chemicals production.

DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V. (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology) brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines, institutions and generations to stimulate scientific exchange in chemical engineering, process engineering and biotechnology. We identify and evaluate emerging technological trends and facilitate the transfer of research results into industrial applications.
DECHEMA has over 5,800 members - individuals, institutions and companies. Together with DECHEMA Ausstellungs-GmbH we are the organizers of ACHEMA, the world forum for the process industry. More at


About Cefic:
Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, is the Brussels-based organisation that represents the European chemical industry. Created in 1972, it represents 29,000 companies that produce about a fifth of the world’s chemicals and employs around 1.2 million people. To learn more about Cefic, visit our Web site at


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