LUCSUS Seminar: Petrochemicals and carbon lock-in - Paradoxes, incumbents and global industry networks
Welcome to a LUCSUS seminar with Joachim Peter Tilsted (LTH).
Constituting a critical gap in research and policy, the petrochemical sector has often been overlooked in energy debates, despite being the most energy intensive industry of all. Used across numerous industrial processes, petrochemicals play a critical role in maintaining fossil fuel lock-in by ensuring the ubiquity of oil, gas, and coal in provisioning systems. In this presentation, I seek to understand the industry in a sustainability transition perspective, highlighting the paradoxes that characterise it as well as the actors and network structures which help to maintain carbon lock-in.
Exemplar of an energy intensive manufacturing process industry, the chemical sector is characterized by long investment cycles, incremental process improvements and large investment costs. Seeing that the industry at the same time is highly globalised and networked with strong inter-sectoral ties to the fossil fuel and plastics sectors, it constitutes a highly relevant but arguably overlooked part of a global fossil fuel regime. Analysing MNC-networks, I seek to demonstrate that not only is the (petro)chemical sector highly connected on a global scale with all major companies being formally integrated, interlocks across value chains also help to maintain the value of fossil capital. The arguments point to the role of inter-sectoral global networks in maintaining and reproducing lock-in and highlight a need for parallel transitions across different socio-technical systems including energy, chemicals, and plastics to break from fossil fuel dependency and achieve decarbonisation.
The LUCSUS seminars are open for all researchers and students to attend. Due to the current situation with Covid-19 the seminars will take place on zoom.