Emissions dashboard | Visualisation of global petrochemical production emissions

August 25th, 2023

Greenhouse gas emissions from just the production stage of petrochemicals represent approximately 4% of all anthropogenic emissions. In this study we have broken down the emissions sources across six dimensions that can be visualised via our interactive dashboard. This knowledge will help target future greenhouse gas reduction policies for the sector.


Deep Dives | Carbon clarity in the petrochemical supply chain

June 15, 2023

C-THRU exists to bring greater clarity, transparency, and breadth to our understanding of emissions from the petrochemical sector. Here we present preliminary results and insights from the second year of the project. In six ‘deep dives’, we showcase the work the team has been doing to shed light on where emissions are released throughout the life cycles of chemical products, the actions we can take to reduce them, and the knock-on effects for other processes within and beyond the industry.


The Critical Review | Carbon clarity in the petrochemical supply chain

October 25, 2022

The decarbonisation of the petrochemical sector is challenging given the complexity of supply chains and thermodynamic constraints of the chemical reactions. Emissions are released throughout their life cycles, with varying stages dominating for different products. Mitigation options are therefore less straightforward than in other industries, requiring a system-wide approach. The nature of the sector also makes data collection and analysis challenging, meaning there is currently no reliable, comprehensive picture of GHG emissions or energy, mass, and trade flows of the petrochemical sector.

Journal articles

Small bales of compacted cans for recycling

What to Do about Plastics? Lessons from a Study of United Kingdom Plastics Flows

Michał DrewniokYunhu GaoAndré Cabrera Serrenho and Jonathan Cullen, March 9, 2023

New study of UK plastics flows from shows that 1/3 of related GHG emissions could be reduced by increasing recycling capacity and halving per capita demand for packaging.


Planet-compatible pathways for transitioning the chemical industry

Fanran MengEric MasanetAndré Cabrera SerrenhoJonathan Cullen, February 14, 2023

New paper presents seven planet-compatible pathways the chemical industry could follow to reach net zero by 2050. Through a combination of demand-side and supply-side strategies, it is possible to transform the industry so that it is a force for environmental good rather than a planetary-boundary-breaking threat.

yulian-alexeyev-xDLEUTWCZdc-unsplash (2)

Greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen fertilizers could be reduced by up to one-fifth of current levels by 2050 with combined interventions

Yunhu Gao and André Cabrera Serrenho, February 9, 2023

New study shows that emissions from global fertilisers could be cut by 84% by implementing a combination of policy solutions and technological measures. 2/3 of emissions from fertilisers are released during the use phase, meaning that both demand-side and supply-side interventions will be required to mitigate emissions.


Model-based Analysis of Ammonia Production Processes for Quantifying Energy Use, Emissions, and Reduction Potentials

Banafsheh Jabarivelisdeh, Enze Jin, Phillip Christopher, and Eric Masanet, January 25, 2023

New study assesses the emissions reductions of actions to improve the efficiency of existing ammonia production processes. Our model reveals the emissions-saving potential of short-term interventions to retrofit existing production facilities for greater efficiency.


Ammonia Production Processes from Energy and Emissions Perspectives: A Technical Brief

Banafsheh Jabarivelisdeh, December 13, 2022

Ammonia is a key chemical produced at large volumes to meet vast global demands for products such as fertilisers. It plays a key role in the global economy, but this is not without cost to the planet. Ammonia production also requires large amounts of energy and releases significant quantities of greenhouse gases. This brief includes technical descriptions of the main ammonia production technologies to build understanding of the current production pathways, the associated energy usage, their process emissions statuses, and the potentials for sustainable ammonia production.


Plastics and climate change—Breaking carbon lock-ins through three mitigation pathways

Jonathan Cullen, May 11, 2022

The plastic industry is dependent on fossil fuels in various ways that result in strong “carbon lock-ins” throughout the value chain and large and growing CO2 emissions. The industry must decarbonize to reach global net-zero pledges.


Interdependence of Growth, Structure, Size and Resource Consumption During an Economic Growth Cycle

Carey KingMay 5, 2022

Scientists and economists often seek to understand the linkages among natural resources consumption and the cost of resources in tandem with the growth rate, size, and structure of complex systems. These systems can be biological organisms, ecosystems, and national or global economies.

The equipment of oil refining, Detail of oil pipeline with valves in large oil refinery, Industrial zone.

A Network Analysis of the Petrochemicals Industry in Western Europe

Chris and Penny Hamlin, April 16, 2021

This paper examines the role of networks in establishing and sustaining industrial sectors and clusters, the consequent behaviours of those clusters and their participants, and ultimately the implications of the extended enterprise for participants, regulators and researchers.


Plastics in the UK

Jonathan Cullen, October 28, 2020

Plastics are ubiquitous in modern society, owing to their usefulness, durability and how cheap and easy they are to produce. This makes plastics both a blessing and a curse.