Planet-compatible pathways for transitioning the chemical industry.
Chemical products, such as plastics, solvents, and fertilizers, are essential for supporting modern lifestyles. Yet, producing, using, and disposing of chemicals creates adverse environmental impacts which threaten the industry's license to operate. This study presents seven planet-compatible pathways toward 2050 employing demand-side and supply-side interventions with cumulative total investment costs of US$1.2-3.7 trillion. Resource efficiency and circularity interventions reduce global chemicals demand by 23 to 33% and are critical for mitigating risks associated with using fossil feedstocks and carbon capture and sequestration, and constraints on available biogenic and recyclate feedstocks. Replacing fossil feedstocks with biogenic/air-capture sources, shifting carbon destinations from the atmosphere to ground, and electrifying/decarbonizing energy supply for production technologies could enable net negative emissions of 0.5 GtCO2eq y-1 across non-ammonia chemicals, while still delivering essential chemical-based services to society.