New Report Finds U.S. Chemical Manufacturers Up to Two Times More Carbon Efficient Than Global Competitors

September 13, 2022

More Carbon Efficient U.S. Chemical Production Could be Leveraged for Economic and Climate Benefit

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States chemicals manufacturing industry has a distinct carbon efficiency advantage compared to other major producing countries, according to a first-of-its kind report released Tuesday by the Climate Leadership Council’s Center for Climate and Trade. This conclusion is supported by new data analysis of five major bulk chemical products manufactured around the world. Globally, the chemicals industry is the third largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions, but this report finds the right international trade rules could help encourage decarbonization while giving lower emitting U.S. manufacturers a competitive advantage.

“The chemicals manufacturing industry is complex, yet the U.S. carbon advantage is unambiguous. Our more efficient production of the chemicals used to manufacture countless household items presents an enormous opportunity for policymakers to implement trade policies that are a win for the U.S. economy and the global climate,” said Catrina Rorke, report author and Executive Director of the Center for Climate and Trade.

Among its key results, the report The U.S. Carbon Advantage in Chemicals Manufacturing finds:

  • Global decarbonization will require substantial investments to reduce GHG emissions from the chemicals industry.
  • Of the bulk chemicals studied, U.S. industry is 10-40% more carbon efficient than the world average.
  • Among the largest producing regions for these products, the U.S. and EU consistently rank among the most carbon efficient producers.
  • The U.S. carbon advantage over major producers in China, the largest chemical manufacturing region, is particularly stark. The U.S. is twice as carbon efficient as China in producing ammonia, a critical component of fertilizer, and nearly three times as efficient at producing polypropylene, a critical component of many plastics.
  • An international trade system that accounts for the carbon intensity of chemicals production would give a competitive advantage to more carbon efficient firms today, while creating incentives for all global producers to lower their emissions moving forward.

“Global decarbonization will depend on the goods produced from the chemicals industry, while at the same time requiring significant reductions in emissions from the sector across the board,” said Council CEO Greg Bertelsen. “With the right trade policies, we can leverage our carbon advantage to enhance the competitiveness of more efficient U.S. chemical manufacturers, lower global emissions and establish incentives for industry everywhere to decarbonize.”

The report was released during an event that featured conversations with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and CF Industries President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Will, who discussed the U.S.’s substantial chemical manufacturing economy and the benefits of aligning climate goals with trade policy. “America’s ability to produce goods with lower emissions is one reason why domestic manufacturing is so important,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Using this advantage to expand American manufacturing is one of our best tools to take on China.”

The Climate Leadership Council works with a broad set of stakeholders to promote the most cost-effective, equitable and politically-viable climate solutions.