Climate deal: Only the best will do

Written by Hubert Mandery on 30 November 2015 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

COP 21 climate deal: Only the best agreement in Paris will do, writes Hubert Mandery.

The European chemical industry is a firm and committed supporter of the drive to secure a new, global agreement to limit climate change.

As world leaders gather in Paris, Cefic – representing more than 29,000 companies in the chemicals arena - urges the adoption of a binding, effective global agreement at the COP21 conference.

Around the world, the seven million people employed in the chemicals industry are stepping up to the growing challenge of global warming. Many are scientists and engineers, working towards the development and delivery of innovative technologies to offset climate change.


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The chemicals industry has a key role to play in this debate. Our industry is one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel users. Through converting oil or gas into essential products, from paints and solvents to plastics, fabrics and fertilizers, our industry consumes up to 10 per cent of the world’s industrial energy use.

With this in mind, our  interest in cutting our energy usage and costs is clearly evident - today, the chemical industry produces twice as much as it did 25 years ago, but uses half as much energy per unit of product.

But our industrial improvements are only part of our contribution to curbing global warming. The big story is our massive drive to innovate and deliver products that help industries and individuals worldwide cut their emissions.

Chemicals are used by manufacturing industries worldwide, to create products to feed us, build and equip our homes, offices and hospitals, care for us, entertain us, and help us move around. Our innovations enable the rest of industry to become more energy efficient, and deliver more energy efficient products.

Chemistry also lies at the heart of the transition to renewable energy, being instrumental in the production of everything from turbine blades and solar panel coatings to power from waste.

EU chemicals factories are now among the most efficient in the world.  And the EU is a powerhouse of chemical production, science and imagination and a pioneer in tackling greenhouse gases.

The region has set vanguard targets for cutting CO2 emissions, and backed them with other initiatives including mandatory targets, renewables subsidies, and carbon trading. We, as an industry, now argue in favour of more reliance on innovation, competitiveness and cost-efficient mechanisms in support of these policy objectives.

This is precisely why the COP21 conference needs to address the pressing need for ambitious policies worldwide so EU industries can maintain their competitiveness on the world stage.

Carbon leakage – the movement of carbon-emitting output from areas with rigorous standards to regions where requirements are more lax – should be the enemy of citizens and policymakers everywhere.

The goal of COP21 should not be to redistribute global industry or allow dirty plants to carry on polluting whilst efficient plants are forced to close.

It must be to take all necessary steps to limit global warming to 2 degrees centigrade, in keeping with the scientific recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In the interest of our planet and the life-forms which share it, nothing less will do.

About the author

Hubert Mandery is the Director General of Cefic, the European chemical industry council

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