Collaborative Innovation for Low-Carbon Emitting Technologies in the Chemical Industry

Due to global population growth and expansion of the middle class, it is expected that demand for chemicals and materials will quadruple by 2050. At the same time, achievement of the Paris agreement goals requires the chemical industry to significantly reduce their emissions (45% reduction, compared to 2017, by 2050, despite a 40% increase in primary chemical output*). Despite a continuous reduction of CO2 emissions associated with chemical operations, the industry will not be able to fulfill climate goals without the adoption of new low carbon emitting technologies as the optimization of current production processes has technical limitations. Several technological challenges such as hydrogen generation in low carbon processes, use of CO2 and biomass as feedstock and the overall electrification of chemical operations could be more efficiently addressed in collaboration. In parallel, the design of new collaborative innovation models (e.g. with joint IP schemes) is needed. In such collaborations partners could benefit from sharing risks and lowering uncertainty while accelerating technology developments and jointly profiting from the results.

The objective of the initiative is to accelerate the development and upscaling of low carbon emitting technologies for chemical production towards a marked reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the chemical industry. A series of low carbon emitting technologies will be identified and prioritized, and parallel project teams will address technology, regulatory, funding, market and collaboration challenges to accelerate their deployment. The outcome of the initiative is the consolidation of alliances for the collaborative implementation of the prioritized technologies, potentially structured as joint ventures, start-ups, alliances and others.

The initiative is led by the Chemistry and Advanced Materials Governors Community at the World Economic Forum.

*Clean Technology Scenario, The Future of Petrochemicals, IEA, 2018

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