The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Jakob Skovgaard

Jakob Skovgaard

Associate professor | Senior lecturer | Principal investigator BECC

Jakob Skovgaard

Petrochemicals and climate change: Powerful fossil fuel lock-ins and interventions for transformative change


  • Fredric Bauer
  • Joachim Peter Tilsted
  • Carolyn Deere Birkbeck
  • Jakob Skovgaard
  • Johan Rootzén
  • Kersti Karltorp
  • Max Åhman
  • Guy David Finkill
  • Luisa Cortat
  • Theo Nyberg

Summary, in English

With the risk of climate breakdown, pressure is increasing for all sectors of the economy to break with fossil fuel dependence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, the chemical industry requires more focused attention as it uses more fossil-fuel based energy than any other industry and the production of chemicals is associated with very large emissions. Beyond the climate crisis, the chemical industry significantly impacts several critical dimensions of sustainability, including the planetary boundaries for novel entities, biosphere integrity, and ocean acidification.

In this report, we focus on the petrochemical sector, which represents the largest share of the chemicals industry and is generally understood to refer to the part of the industry that relies on fossil-fuel feedstocks from oil, gas, and coal. The petrochemicals sector produces chemicals mainly used for plastics and fertilisers, but the products also end up in paints, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and other applications.

This report provides a critical exploration of the petrochemical sector to strengthen awareness of its relevance to the climate crisis and to provide tools and recommendations for decision-makers in different domains to initiate, support, and accelerate much-needed transformation. The report highlights the rapid expansion of the petrochemical sector as well as the range and growth of economic, infrastructural, and political interlinkages with the fossil fuel extraction sector. It argues that these developments and dynamics are crucial to understanding pathways, strategies, and interventions for a low-carbon transition for petrochemicals.


  • Environmental and Energy Systems Studies
  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year





IMES/EESS report

Document type



Environmental and Energy Systems Studies, Lund university


  • Energy Systems
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary




  • Petrochemicals and Climate Change: Mapping Power Structures

Report number



  • ISSN: 1102-3651
  • ISBN: 978-91-86961-56-5