Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Sustainable Chemistry for a Sustainable World

From 30 November to 11 December 2015, world leaders will meet in Paris at the Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Their objective will be to seek agreement on a global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilise global political will to address the global climate challenge. This is a challenge that requires the contribution of a sustainable chemistry sector.

In early November leaders of Cefic, the European chemical industry association, published a signed letter in the Financial Times expressing firm support for government’s efforts to secure a strong, globally binding climate change agreement at COP21 in Paris. The full text of the letter to The Financial Times is reproduced below.

The letter clearly stated that the chemical industry does and will continue to support efforts by European governments and institutions to achieve a competitive, low carbon economy. However the leaders stressed the importance of the word “competitive” in that sentence: only a competitive, sustainable European chemical industry can contribute to the achievement of a low carbon economy through its essential innovations.

SusChem and a sustainable chemical industry
“The chemical industry is key in addressing the climate change challenge.  It is a critical supplier of novel materials and advanced technologies to many value chains and therefore a crucial partner in achieving a competitive, low-carbon economy,” comments Pierre Barthélemy Cefic’s Executive Director, Research and Innovation.

Sustainability is an overriding priority for the chemical industry and the industry can do much to change societal production and consumption patterns. In particular the sector can promote resource efficient products and is a key enabler for the advanced innovative products and services that can deliver sustainable solutions throughout the economy. Together with supply chain partners, the chemical industry takes a holistic approach to sustainability. With a skilled workforce, a sustainable chemical sector can develop and produce innovative products, services and solutions for a growing global population, while striving to conserve our planet’s resources and respecting the environment.

And SusChem-inspired initiatives and actions are a key part of this.

“Addressing the climate change challenge depends strongly on technological innovation to reduce the energy and feedstock footprint of our society," says Pierre Barthélemy. "SusChem proposes numerous solutions based on enabling technologies that can foster a more sustainable economy and ensure a positive impact on our society and the environment, including the transition to a more circular economy.”

Cefic statement
Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO Solvay and Cefic President elaborates more on the importance of sustainability and the chemical industry in the video below.

You can find out much more about the European Chemical Industry’s approach and view on COP-21, including more video interviews with chemical industry leaders, here.

An open letter to the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament
The European chemical industry backs strong global climate change agreement at COP21
"We, leaders of the European chemical industry, applaud the diplomatic efforts to achieve an ambitious and globally-binding agreement in the Paris climate negotiations next month. Climate action is needed worldwide, to truly protect future generations from this global problem.
Today, the chemical industry is a pillar of the European economy: a €551 billion industry in 2014 with a significant trade surplus of €43.5 billion, providing over 1 million direct jobs and nearly 2.5 million indirect jobs in Europe.
We believe the chemical industry is also a pillar of tomorrow’s low carbon economy.
We represent a creative industry, whose greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 54% on 1990 levels while production grew by 70%. So, we want to set the record straight that Cefic does, and will continue to, support efforts by European governments and institutions to achieve a competitive, low-carbon economy.
Chemistry is often all but invisible yet essential to consumers’ everyday lives: from health and hygiene to transport, construction and computing. Chemical innovation enables current and future climate change solutions, including renewable energy, energy storage and thousands of products to improve energy efficiency, such as in vehicles and buildings. In future years, chemical companies around the world will develop many more of these innovative and important solutions.
For now, Europe’s chemical industry is facing the reality of ever fiercer global competition. It must remain competitive in order to continue being innovative.
Climate change policy leadership in Europe should not come at the expense of ‘investment leakage’ – the effect of regional imbalances in climate regulations and associated cost differences that lead to the relocation of carbon emissions but not to an overall global reduction. For this reason we would warmly welcome a successful outcome in next month’s climate negotiations. Meanwhile Europe’s policymakers also need to make certain that measures are in place ensuring energy-intensive industries are not exposed to investment leakage in any scenario. European deindustrialisation is not and should never be seen as a viable option on the journey to decarbonisation.
We wish success to all involved in the negotiations in Paris next month."

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