Carbon as a raw material permeates our economy, and over half of the carbon we use still comes from fossil sources (see Figure 1). Ensuring circularity by recycling or reusing carbon – sourced from waste streams, sustainable biomass or carbon capture – in products, or substituting fossil-based carbon with another material through industrial innovation, could reduce the overall demand for virgin fossil-based carbon and reduce associated GHG emissions. The chemicals industry is the only user of fossil-based carbon for non-energy purposes; in 2018, this amounted to 73.2 million tonnes (Mt) C from fossil resources, according to the 2021 carbon economy report. To address this, the Commission has set the target that, by 2030, sustainable non-fossil sources should cover at least 20 % of carbon use for chemical and plastic products. In its technical assessment accompanying the communication, the Commission further highlights the need to make progress on advanced low carbon biofuels, biogas, biomethane and synthetic fuels to substitute fossil fuels, especially in hard-to-electrify transport sectors such as shipping and aviation. In construction, the substitution of GHG-intensive with bio-based materials is noted, along with the added value of such products delivering a carbon pool of sequestered carbon with delayed emissions, depending on their lifecycle.
Carbon flows EU-27 (2018)
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