“Change it to blaCk” 2019 campaign

EuChemS, as the voice of chemistry in Europe, has produced a unique Periodic Table:

“Today, the Periodic Table stands out as a universally known symbol of science, as well as being itself, an example of science’s global language. 2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019). It offers a unique opportunity to showcase the pivotal role played by science and chemistry over the last 150 years, as well as the importance it continues to play in facing the challenges of today. From the environment to energy, industry to agriculture, health to education, the reach of the chemical sciences is broad and fundamental.” (Extract from Euchems website)


The EuChemS Periodic Table has earmarked elements also for their origin from conflict areas (black backdrop) or for threat from excessive use (from yellow to red). A green backdrop frames elements characterized by plentiful supply with no issues related to origin from conflict areas (https://www.euchems.eu/euchems-periodic-table/)

What about Carbon?

Carbon, now with a “safe” green backdrop in the periodic table, should instead bear a clear indication that its main sources, hydrocarbons, are in many cases tied to conflict areas. Change it to BlaCk!

As chemists and chemical engineers, associating carbon, a central element in our chemical sciences and value chain, to a black color-coding, the color associated to “conflict element” in the EuChemS IYPT2019 periodic table, is tantamount onto touching onto something close to corporate responsibility on our own supply chain, on responsible sourcing within the chemistry community. This positioning has a consequence that we seldom tackle explicitly:

Promotion of Renewable energy injection in the current energy supply system (and therefore in the chemical industry) as a replacement to potentially conflict-ridden fossil fuels is also a consequence of an ethical standpoint.

…and its ricochet  effects

Responsible use entails responsible disposal as well as responsible sourcing. Current main disposal of carbon sources (that is, mostly, anthropogenic CO2 emissions) is contributing to the current climate change.  Carbon therefore should also be coded as orange in the EuChemS periodic table, orange standing for an element inducing a “Rising threat from increased use”, intended this time as an element having severely unbalanced planet boundaries (rather than strictu sensu threat from depleting reserves). The imbalanced nitrogen cycles similarly calls for a further change in the Euchems IYPT. Hydrocarbons, our current major carbon sources, are also involved in the synthesis of all our commodity chemicals, including Hydrogen (H2), a central actor in chemical sciences. The sourcing trail of hydrocarbons transfers down to hydrogen, as long as it remain fossil in origin.  The reflection is open for the ricochet effects of owning up to responsible sourcing in chemistry…

Among the main consequences of this discussion is promotion of renewable energy injection in our current infrastructure.

“Change it to blaCk” campaign

The profound goal of this “Change it to blaCk” campaign is to contribute to the continuous efforts to keep injecting ethics and accountability in our practices as chemists and chemical engineers, to claim responsibility over our own supply chain, with responsible sourcing within the chemistry community.

Proposal for reviewed EuCheMS Periodic Table classification of Carbon: change carbon’s backdrop to black for its possible origin from conflict-ridden areas and to orange for its role in climate changing excessive CO2-emissions

First 35 signees for the “Change it to BlaCk” appeal to EuCheMs

France: Elsje Alessandra QUADRELLI, Vincent ARTERO, Etienne GRAU, Thibaut CANTAT, Marc Robert, Julien LECLAIRE, Hérvé BERCEGOL, Philippe VERNOUX, Franck DUMEIGNIL, Hazar GUESMI, Francesco DI RENZO, Xavier CARRIER, François JÉRÔME, Emmanuel NICOLAS, Sylviane SABO-ETIENNE, Jean-Marc MILLET, Jean-Claude BERTHET, Bruno ANDRIOLETTI, Clément CAMP, Frédéric CHANDEZON, Jean-François GUILLEMOLES, Hervé TOULHOAT.

Italy: Maurizio PERUZZINI, Silvia BORDIGA, Carmine CAPACCHIONE, Leonarda Francesca LIOTTA.

Germany: Walter LEITNER, Regina PALKOVITS.

United Kingdom: Martyn POLIAKOFF, Michael BOWKER.


United States:  Paul ANASTAS, G. K.  SURYA PRAKASH.

Canada: Phillip JESSOP.

(Appeal sent to Euchems in December 2019)