The Transition Pathway describes a roadmap for the European chemical industry to become climate neutral by 2050. It includes chapters about investments and funding, research and innovation, and infrastructure, but also about skills and the social dimension. 

IndustriAll Europe was part of the drafting process of the Transition Pathway and believes that the roadmap is key to lead the chemical industry through the transition. The implementation of this roadmap will follow in the coming years and shed light on whether the Transition Pathway is more than just a document.

IndustriAll Europe stresses that there is no legislative action foreseen for the skills and social dimension parts. However, in order to guarantee a Just Transition for all, it is important that these chapters receive the necessary attention. A roadmap alone does not make a Just Transition in the industry, and as industriAll Europe, we will ensure that we have a fair role in the implementation process.

Judith Kirton-Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe, says:

“The Transition Pathway contains many elements that we deem crucial for a Just Transition: social dialogue at all levels, workers’ involvement in decision making and change management, granular mapping of employment effects and corresponding labour market measures, and job-to-job transition plans. If all of this is put into practice across Europe, we will see a Just Transition in the chemical industry.

“Upskilling is first and foremost the responsibility of the industry employers. Training plans must be made in anticipation of competence needs, in cooperation with workers’ representatives. SMEs may need assistance or pooling of resources to stem this task.”

Products of the chemical industry are essential for many applications that are needed for the green transition. Without the chemical industry, there would be no renewable energies, no electromobility, and no smart grids.
Chemicals are in 95% of all goods in Europe. Improving the carbon footprint of chemicals helps downstream industries to reach their own climate targets.

Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe, adds:

“Massive investments are needed in a short time and decisions with huge implications must be taken. Industries need to secure raw materials and renewable energy at affordable prices to maintain industrial sites and jobs in Europe. This requires a sustainable, modernised infrastructure – today, not in 2050.”

The transition of the chemical industry includes the decarbonisation of production processes, the transition to circular processes and the review of chemical management. A comprehensive roadmap is necessary to find synergies, but also to identify potential discrepancies and inconsistencies to resolve them, and with clearly defined responsibilities. Only if all stakeholders fulfil their role and deliver on their tasks can this be a success story."

Going forward, workers and their unions need to be actively involved. The best way to "equip" someone for change is to give them a say and recognise their contribution.

Notes: European Commission Transition Pathway for the chemical sector.