German Chemical Producers Target Climate Neutrality

VCI Says its Member Companies are Committed to Climate Protection

04.12.2019 -

The European Parliament has voted to declare an EU-wide climate emergency as a symbolic gesture toward stepping up pressure on the European Commission’s new leadership that took office this week.

In the vote held on the eve of the COP25 climate change conference taking place in Madrid, Spain, this week, the MEPs called on the Commission to ensure that all relevant legislative and budgetary proposals are “fully aligned with the 1.5-degree target limit on global warming.”

For the EU 27, the legislators said this would mean cutting emissions by 55% by 2030 to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The message was also directed at US president Donald Trump, who recently touched off proceedings to formally withdraw the country from the Paris climate accord. The US exit would become official on Nov. 3, 2020, one day after next year’s presidential election.

Some 25,000 people from 200 countries were expected to attend the Madrid meeting, including heads of state and government, business leaders, scientists and activists such as Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

COP25 is the last gathering of the COP group before the Paris climate agreement comes into force next year.

Chemical industry strives for climate neutrality

While the US is balking, Europe is already setting targets. New Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a European Green Deal that targets climate neutrality by 2050.

In Germany, where temperatures are seen as potentially nearing or having already reached the 1.5 degree warming threshold, 49% of people responding to a survey published last month said they wanted climate protection to be a top priority for the national government.

The German chemical industry is already working toward climate neutrality. At a press conference in Frankfurt on Dec. 3, the industry association Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI) said its member companies are completely committed to climate protection and are acting accordingly.

Since 1990, the association said, the chemical industry has halved its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and on a path toward GHG neutrality is currently working toward slashing the use of fossil-fuel based feedstock from 94% currently to 6% by 2050.

The pledge comes with strings attached, however.

While current studies show that the target is technically possible, in order to achieve the switch VCI president Hans van Bylen (CEO of Henkel) said chemical companies would need to spend €45 billion on next-generation production facilities as well investing heavily in renewable energy sources at prices much lower than at present.