The global chemical industry is working to create the products that help make sustainability possible while improving the energy efficiency of our operations and reducing emissions.

Global Chemical Industry Initiatives to Help the World Overcome Its Most Pressing Sustainability Challenges

Chemistry is essential to overcoming global societal challenges. We present you with an overview of our initiatives.


» View the Global Chemical Industry Initiatives

International Council of Chemicals Association Statement on Climate Policy

Climate change is a global challenge that requires long-term commitment and action by every segment of society.  A combination of technology,
market-based and policy solutions will be necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and achieve climate goals, such as those of the
Paris Agreement.

The chemical industry and innovations in chemistry are part of the climate change solution.  As a significant manufacturing sector, we are continuously improving the energy efficiency and intensity of our own operations.  And we are putting our brightest minds to work developing transformational technologies that cut emissions, improve energy efficiency and enable a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable future.

» Read the Full Climate Policy Statement

Chemistry and the Global Climate Agreement

At the 2015 Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), world leaders agreed to a global action plan known as the Paris Agreement. The Agreement is designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mobilize global political will to address the climate change challenge. Successful implementation of the Paris Agreement hinges in large part on contributions from the private sector. For global chemical manufacturers, that means continuing to do what we do best: innovate. Innovation requires a consistent, supportive policy and regulatory environment to reach its full potential and to allow industry to develop and implement solutions to address global sustainability challenges.


Chemistry forms the backbone of energy efficient products and technologies that help enable a more sustainable future. While greenhouse gas is emitted during the manufacture of chemical products, the use of the products downstream and in other sectors can help save more energy and emissions than are required to produce them. To this end, ICCA has developed multiple energy technology roadmaps, life cycle assessment tools and case studies to help businesses up and down the value chain realize new gains in energy efficiency while also reducing the environmental footprint of their operations. » An overview of ICCA’s efforts can be found here.


Innovations that Enable Sustainability

Chemistry creates irreplaceable components – needed for power generation and storage, industry and production, mobility and transportation, nutrition and agriculture, and building and housing – that improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A study commissioned by ICCA carried out on a worldwide scale estimates that by 2030, light materials for transportation, efficient buildings and lighting, electric cars, wind and solar power and improved tires, have the potential to avoid 2.5 Gigatons of GHG emissions globally every year. The Innovation Report commissioned by ICCA more recently, shows concrete examples of innovations in five main sectors that could develop emissions reductions of about 5-10 Gigatons by 2050.


Roadmaps to a Cleaner, More Efficient World

ICCA’s Building Technology Roadmap describes how the increased use of chemically derived building products could help the residential and commercial buildings sectors achieve significant reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A second technology roadmap, Energy and GHG Reductions in the Chemical Industry via Catalytic Processes, outlines several ways in which catalysts can be used to reduce energy use for high-volume manufacturing processes while curbing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.


Quantifying Progress

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool that chemical manufacturers use to systematically evaluate the environmental impacts of products over their entire life cycle. ICCA’s Avoided Emissions Guidelines demonstrate how companies can employ LCA to quantify the emissions savings enabled by chemicals, taking all steps into account, from production, through use, to safe disposal. Seventeen case studies illustrate how companies have used the guidelines to quantify emissions savings enabled by their products across the value chain.


    ICCA’s technology roadmaps outline how governments and industry can work together to accelerate the implementation of chemical products and innovations to improve sustainability around the globe.

Building Technology Roadmap

Of all the energy that is used around the world, nearly one-third is consumed by the buildings sector. ICCA’s Building Technology Roadmap explores the potential energy and GHG savings from five chemically-derived building technologies: insulation, pipe and pipe insulation, air sealing, reflective roof coatings and pigments, and windows. According to our technology roadmap, combining ambitious building efficiency improvements with lower-carbon fuels could lead to a 41 percent reduction in energy use and a 70 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050.

Catalytic Processes Roadmap

ICCA’s Energy and GHG Reductions in the Chemical Industry via Catalytic Processes is a technology roadmap that explores how the chemical industry can harness catalysis and other related technologies to boost energy efficiency in production processes. By increasing the rate of a chemical reaction, catalysts can effectively improve the energy efficiency of the reaction. The technology roadmap describes a combination of several pathways that could help cut energy use by 13 exajoules by 2050 and curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rates 1 gigatonne of CO2 equivalent.


    Chemical manufacturers use life cycle assessment tools to systematically evaluate the environmental, social and economic impacts of our products over the course of their entire life cycle.

The Value of the Life Cycle Assessment

Conducting a life cycle assessment (LCA) means accounting for all the environmental impacts of a product over its entire life cycle.

ICCA members employ LCA to evaluate these impacts throughout a product’s entire lifespan, from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and eventual disposal or recycling.

We’ve found that, over the course of their lifespan, many chemical industry products enable the prevention of significant GHG emissions when compared to non-chemical solutions. For that reason, LCA is critical to assessing – and ultimately improving – the sustainability of value chains.

ICCA’s executive guide, How to Know If and When it’s Time to Commission a Life Cycle Assessment, is a primer on life cycle thinking and how companies around the globe can use LCA to quantify the important contributions their products make toward creating a more sustainable economy.

Helping Others Become Champions Of Life Cycle Assessment

ICCA has developed a set of guidelines that employ life cycle assessment to help companies and their value chain customers achieve a better understanding of the avoided greenhouse gas emissions of their products.

Addressing the Avoided Emissions Challenge

ICCA’s Avoided Emissions Guidelines are designed to help make the process of conducting and communicating life cycle assessments more consistent.

The guidelines enable companies to compare greenhouse gas emissions along the life cycle of two solutions of equal benefit to users.

With a more accurate picture of a product’s environmental performance, businesses along the value chain can be more confident in the sustainability of the solution they put on the market.

Avoided Emissions Case Studies

ICCA’s avoided emissions case studies demonstrate the use of the Avoided Emissions Guidelines. ICCA has assembled 17 robust examples quantifying how, and how much solutions enabled by chemical products can contribute to greenhouse gas savings. The case studies were offered by ten companies and two associations. They exemplify the application of the ICCA & WBCSD Chemical Sector guidelines.

Each case study illustrates the importance of using a consistent, harmonized and methodical approach when calculating avoided emissions. The case studies also highlight the chemical industry’s commitment to enhancing transparency and improving the sustainability of chemical products.

For further reading:


Achieving ambitious sustainability goals requires that industry, governments, academia and others work together. Our partners in sustainability have played a key role in helping industry improve the way we assess our environmental performance, and they have helped us better identify and communicate the vast potential chemical products hold in helping countries meet and exceed their sustainability objectives.



The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that helps drive debate and policy change in favor of sustainable development solutions.

ICCA and the WBCSD first joined forces in 2012 on a chemical sector sustainability project called Reaching Full Potential. The aim of the project was “to help the chemical sector harmonize approaches to sustainability measurement and define collaborative value chain solutions in order to scale-up sustainable business solutions across the sector’s value chains.”

Together we developed practical guidelines to improve consistency in the assessment and reporting of avoided emissions. WBCSD drew upon existing life cycle assessment studies, company presentations, and expertise from participating chemical companies. Our work culminated in the ICCA and WBCSD’s Avoided Emissions Guidelines, released in 2013, and reviewed in 2017.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an international energy forum comprising 29 industrialized countries under the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). IEA’s overarching goal is to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its member countries and beyond.

ICCA teamed up with IEA to develop our 2013 technology roadmap, Energy and GHG Reductions in the Chemical Industry via Catalytic Processes. Around 90 percent of chemical manufacturing processes use catalysis, and ICCA’s partnership with IEA helped us further explore how the chemical industry can use catalysts and other related technology to boost energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions in manufacturing processes.

We also joined IEA for a Global Industry Experts Dialogue Workshop at their Paris headquarters in 2014. There, we helped to explore the role of catalysis and other game-changing innovations can play in meeting climate targets of the Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 project.

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