Transition Pathways: Industrials and Chemicals

Back to Transition Pathways

The industrials and chemicals sector faces a long and complex transition with different challenges ahead for companies at every step along the value chain, from the extraction of raw materials to the manufacturing of finished goods. Decarbonising the industrial sector will require collaboration and commitment across the entire ecosystem and the support of industry leaders, policymakers, and financiers.

The fourth instalment of HSBC's Transition Pathways series looks at how companies across the real economy - metals, cement, chemicals, plastics, pulp, paper, glass and manufacturing – is approaching the journey towards net zero emissions, and what it will take to accelerate their progress. These industry insights are intended to help corporate leaders develop and act on their transition plans.

These sectors are at the heart of building, moving and connecting the real economy – and they drive global energy demand. So, reducing emissions and fossil fuel reliance in these sectors is key to accelerating the energy transition.

Transition plans demonstrate action and practical steps against ambition and show regulators, financiers, investors, and customers how an organisation intends to reach net zero across its operations and value chains.

Our net zero ambition means aligning financed emissions – the greenhouse gas emissions of our clients – to net zero by 2050. To do this, we have set 2030 targets for certain industrial sectors: in cement, we aim to reduce on-balance sheet financed emissions intensity from our 2019 baseline 0.64 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per ton of cement (tCO2) to 0.46 by 2030, and reduce emissions intensity per ton of steel / aluminium from our 2019 baseline 1.8tCO2 to 1.05 by 2030.

By setting intensity-based targets, we can enable climate-positive investment in these sectors, to support green technologies and transition solutions.

How is the sector transitioning?

How are companies in the industrials sector approaching the transition to net zero? What is accelerating their decarbonisation, and what is holding them back? We worked with Kantar to ask 375 companies across 22 markets what the transition means for their business. (Methodology available below).

Commercially important


of companies in the sector say transitioning to net zero is commercially important to their business

Reporting on emissions


are reporting currently on scope 1 and 2 emissions, and almost half (46%) are reporting on emissions in their value chain

Capex is rising


are spending at least 10% of their capex on the net zero transition, and 54% expect to do so in 2-3 years’ time

The long-term decarbonisation of the industrials and chemicals sector is critical to global efforts to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. We can see that companies are stepping up their investment in climate-aligned initiatives, and we look forward to helping them overcome obstacles in their transition.

Sophie Lu | Global Head of Heavy Industry Decarbonisation, HSBC

Material progress: How are companies in the sector approaching the low-carbon transition?

How heavy industry is working towards net zero

Industrials & chemicals companies are increasing spending on net zero transition and see technology and finance as key.

What is driving transition in the sector?

How circularity can make the plastics value chain more sustainable

Plastic is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and low-carbon alternatives are not widely available. Regulators are pushing for greater use of recycled material. How is the industry responding?

Metals and minerals: Turning supply gaps into investment opportunities

The global net zero transition will require a huge quantity of industrial metals and minerals. How can supply meet the fast-growing demand?

Our climate strategy

Today we finance a number of industries that significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. We have a strategy to help our customers to reduce their emissions and to reduce our own.

Explore more insights from experts and industry partners on the global transition, and how we're supporting our clients to act on their sustainability ambitions, driving impact for their business, employees and communities.

Step 1

Contact Us

Please provide your business contact details below so we can direct your enquiry to the relevant team.


Explore how we're supporting customers in their transition to net zero.