Prompted by EU targets, the European chemical industry is pursuing ambitious goals for reduced carbon and net-zero emissions—but there are significant hurdles that need to be overcome. To reach those goals, the industry will need nine times more energy than it uses today, requiring the equivalent of 508 new nuclear power plants. It will also need to invest more than €1 trillion to transform its own operations. And chemical companies will need to compete with one another—and with other industries that are working to meet their own net-zero goals—for the key enablers of a lower-carbon world, such as green energy, hydrogen, carbon-capture capabilities and, of course, funding.
As it tackles these challenges, the industry will also need to increase its global competitiveness—as demonstrated by the fact that net EU trade balance dropped dramatically from approximately €35.8 billion in 2021 to €2.5 billion in 2022.
Recent Accenture research paints a daunting picture—but it also identifies factors pointing to a brighter future. These include a coming era of hypergrowth driven by intense demand for sustainability-related products, and the potential to take an integrated, collaborative approach across industries that draws on standardization and economies of scale to efficiently build the net-zero infrastructure.
Cefic members are invited to join this discussion to explore ways for chemical companies to move forward in this changing environment.