As Copenhagen Summit Opens the Impact on Chemical Industry Remains Unclear

photo : Scandinavia Travel

With a huge political fanfare, the UN summit on climate change is opening today in the Danish capital Copenhagen, with delegates from 192 countries attending.

According to UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer " The Copenhagen climate negotiations beginning Monday must yield an ambitious, sweeping agreement to capitalize on pledges by countries to fight global warming".

In the days and weeks leading up to this summit, there has been much political rhetoric but also an increasing level of heated debate, stirred up significantly by the leak of the so called "climategate" e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

If a deal is reached, the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions will have significant consequences for industry, both from a cost point of view (cap and trade and other proposed legislative changes) and a technology point-of-view (energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage and other green technologies).

At this stage, it is difficult to see whether an agreement can be achieved. There are major concerns in many countries, in-part relating to the scientific issues (particularly post "climategate") and partly about the impact on industry and consequently employment in those countries.

This blog's view is that the industry must vigorously implement a "sustainability agenda" looking to reduce energy consumption wherever possible and as quickly as is possible, using both energy efficiency programmes and new technologies. This is the right thing to do irrespective of the AGW debate.

Regarding climate change and AGW, a rational and open debate is needed as soon as possible. The 'science is settled' argument can only be finalised when all of the concerns have been discussed and addressed openly.

The current name calling tactics coming from both sides in the debate are totally unproductive and will only serve to polarise views further, making it even harder to achieve universal agreement and agree an implementation plan. Once a broad consensus is achieved, that is the time to decide on legislated targets and sequestration technologies such as CCS.

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