The 11th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) took place in Leiden between the 2nd and the 5th of July. The international Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) –  coordinator of the project – presented the latest research on circularity in chemicals industry in the scope of CircEUlar in the special session: “Bringing Industrial Ecology and the circular economy into integrated assesment models”.

Chemicals are fundementally integrated into our daily lives with various end-uses such as agriculture, construction or packgaging. The sector is the third biggest emitter in the industry and it relies heavily on fossil fuels such as oil and gas, amounting to approximately 14% and 8% of the world’s oil and gas use respectively (IEA, 2019). We use our integrated assesment model MESSAGEix-Materials for a scenario analysis that combines climate policy with demand-side strategies in circular economy specifically focusing on narrow / reduce aspects which implies using fewer resources per product.

One of the chemcials that has widespread application in agriculture is ammonia and it is used to produce nitrogen fertilizers. Our results show that CO2 emissions from ammonia production can be reduced around 40% in 2070 by reducing our food consumption, with low meat diets, halving food faste and better fertilizer management practices. The combinartion of the demand focused policies with circular practices are equally as important as supply side technological transformation in industry as we see that the dependency on fossil resources will remain the next decades especially for ammonia and plastics production.

IIASA will keep working on extending the scenario analysis with more circularity measures and explore how these measures interact with climate policies.

By Gamze Unlu – IIASA