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As the energy transition is slowly gaining momentum, the materials transition must happen next. One subset of the materials transition is the so-called Biobased transition, which can be defined as the switch from fossil feedstocks to renewable carbon, especially in the petrochemical industry.

In this online talk Martijn Zieverink, Professor Biobased Transitions at MNEXT will sketch out the magnitude of both the problem and of potential solutions. A major problem is one of scale: if existing industries are not willing (or able) to change fast enough, new industries have to be built. This will take both time and huge amounts of capital, both of which are in short supply. Pricing is a systemic problem: fossil carbon is simply too cheap when taking into account all the environmental and societal damage it causes after use.

There are also some opportunities; a switch to renewable feedstocks allows a chance for a more equitable distribution of value. And large organic streams that are now considered waste have the capacity to become valuable commodities.

As the planet is racing towards a 1.5 degree average temperature rise, the question is no longer if there will be an overshoot but how large it will be. Biobased transitions will have an important role to play in mitigating the causes of climate change.

Participation is free of charge. See the website for more information

Image: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock