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Renewable carbon: Key to a sustainable and future‐oriented chemical and plastic industry: Definition, strategy, measures and potential

Michael Carus, Lara Dammer, Achim Raschka and Pia Skoczinski

Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology, 2020, vol. 10, issue 3, 488-505

Abstract: Why do we need ‘renewable carbon’? In order to fight climate change, we need to curb our consumption of fossil resources. This has been shown in many studies and several of them even quantify how much of the remaining fossil resources need to be left in the ground. In the energy sector, this is possible through ‘decarbonisation’. However, this strategy is not feasible for organic chemistry, which is defined by the use of carbon. So, for the important chemical and plastic industries, we need to find alternative carbon sources in order to shift towards a more sustainable and climate‐friendly production and consumption. We call these alternative carbon sources ‘renewable carbon’. Staying with the widely accepted concept of ‘decarbonisation’ is not only inaccurate for the chemical and plastics industry, it is also dangerous, since it shifts attention away from the inevitability of carbon use and therefore from the question of the ‘right’ carbon sources. Furthermore, in light of growing scarcity of other finite resources – metals, minerals, rare earths – carbon will be an important backbone of humankind's product needs, since it is available in almost unlimited quantities in the atmosphere. The equivalent to decarbonisation in the energy sector is a transition to renewable carbon in the chemical and plastics industries. © 2020 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Date: 2020
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