Gulf’s petrochemicals industry taking steps to combat climate change

The Arabian Gulf’s petrochemicals industry is taking steps to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to combat climate change, said the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), ahead of World Environment Day.

“The facts are clear: greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. “If emissions continue to go unchecked, the ensuing impact will be catastrophic.”

According to research conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the current rate of global greenhouse gas emissions is likely to lead global warming to rise above 2° Celsius, a level that is above the target agreed upon in the UN’s Copenhagen Accord (2009).

“Unchecked emissions have the potential to not only heat up our planet, but also have disastrous consequences on sea levels and agriculture,” Dr. Al-Sadoun. “The World Bank has estimated that for coastal cities, an increase of 2° C could result in rising sea levels of up to 0.5 meters, resulting in millions of displaced people and billions worth of damages. For the Arabian Gulf, the rising temperatures mean that the region will become even hotter and drier and that more people will suffer from water shortages. ”

As a result, international debate on climate change routinely touches upon putting mandatory caps on GHG emissions. The upcoming Conference of Parties (COP 2015) meeting in Paris to be held in December, is expected to include negotiations on a universal framework on climate change issues, involving a legal agreement to reduce emissions from all participants.

“The management of GHG emissions is crucial to human survival,” said Dr. Al-Sadoun. “For countries in the GCC that are dependent on oil and gas, the leadership needs to look at investing in technologies that control emissions in their day-to-day operations and improve energy efficiency, rather than reducing activity altogether, as this would have a serious consequence on development.” The GPCA estimates that a binding global treaty on the subject of GHG emissions has the potential to shrink demand for oil by up to 25%, resulting in a parallel revenue decrease.

Furthermore, estimated annual losses for oil-producing countries in this region could hit US$265 billion.

“Therefore, in order to evolve into thoughtful and accountable environmental stewards, GCC petrochemical players are investing in technologies that manage their GHG emissions,” Dr. Al-Sadoun further said.
Technologies that capture carbon emissions for storage or reintegration into operations are a useful, innovative way to manage GHG emissions, GPCA recommended.

Petrochemicals companies like SABIC’s subsidiary Safco in Saudi Arabia, QAFAC in Qatar, GPIC in Bahrain and Fertil in the UAE already use carbon capture technology in their manufacturing processes.

“The good news is that in the last two years, GCC petrochemicals producers have managed to reduce energy consumption per ton of product by 8% through technical improvements and other preservation initiatives,” he pointed out.

“However, the sustainability journey is still in its infancy and it is true that these changes will not happen immediately. Technologies like CCU, technical upgrades and leak detection will play a key role in the climate change solution and we encourage leaders, policy makers and businesses to collaborate in finding a long-term solution for climate change,” Dr. Al-Sadoun noted. –

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