The chemical sector is the largest industrial energy consumer and the third largest industry subsector in terms of direct CO2 emissions. This is largely because around half of the chemical subsector’s energy input is consumed as feedstock – fuel used as a raw material input rather than as a source of energy.

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Key findings

Direct CO2 emissions from primary chemical production and CO2 intensity in the Net Zero Scenario, 2000-2030


Direct CO2 emissions increase, technological innovation is needed to get on track to Net Zero

Direct CO2 emissions from primary chemical production amounted to 925 Mt in 2021, a 5% increase with respect to the previous year, resulting from a production increase to levels above those in 2019. This is in tandem with a relatively stable primary chemicals CO2 intensity over recent years, at around 1.3 t CO2 per tonne of primary chemicals.

In the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, CO2 emissions start to decouple from production in the coming few years, reaching a 17% CO2 emission reduction compared to 2021 by 2030 despite an increase in production. To get on track with the Net Zero Scenario, both the private and public sectors will need to achieve technological innovation, efficiency gains and higher recycling rates.
Our work

The IETS TCP focuses on energy use in a broad range of industry sectors with significant potential for emissions and cost savings. The IETS TCP work programme ranges from aspects relating to development of processes and energy technologies, to overall system analysis and energy efficiency in industry sectors.