SCI responds to IPCC climate warning

Published by Scott Challinor on August 12th 2021, 10:03am

The Society of Chemical Industry’s [SCI] head of innovation, David Bott, has reassured that the organisation is supporting efforts to mitigate the use of fossil fuels in the wake of this week’s damning IPCC report on the state of the planet.

The report was clear in its conclusions that human influence had been responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases which are ultimately responsible for climate change and its effects, including increased average temperature on earth’s surface, and extreme weather phenomena.

While parts of the report suggests that some effects of climate change are now unavoidable, Bott called upon industry to mitigate the use of fossil carbon, going on to reassure that the SCI had been looking to contribute to the effort to reduce the sector’s environmental impact for some time.

Bott said: “This [climate change] is primarily caused by the extraction and use of fossil carbon deposits, which are either burned as fuels, or used as feedstock for carbon-based chemicals or as reduction agents in the processing of ores into metals.

“It may be too late to avoid some aspects of the climate catastrophe that is widely predicted, but there must be urgent action to mitigate the use of fossil carbon - not just as fuel but as a feedstock for industry. The Chemistry Council set out a plan to tackle their part of this responsibility two years ago and are acting as organisations and as a sector within the UK.

“SCI is part of these actions, supporting specific projects to ensure that these changes do not compromise the way chemicals and materials contribute to health, well-being, food supply and communications.”

Speaking to The Parliamentary Review, SCI chief executive Sharon Todd echoed Bott’s sentiments, explaining that helping deliver on the UK’s net zero carbon targets was one of the organisation’s major priorities.

She also suggested that the level of speed in which Covid-19 vaccines were developed as a solution to the pandemic may set a useful precedent for the swift development of green technologies to help meet the net zero carbon target even quicker.

Todd said: “SCI’s two areas of activity today are in global health and delivering net zero. Global health has clearly been in focus with the current Covid-19 pandemic, and many of our members have been instrumental in the development and delivery of vaccines and PPE.

“Applying the effective strategies used to develop Covid vaccines in an unprecedented short period of time may also assist in the acceleration and adoption of new technologies that will help meet the net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets quicker.”

Todd also believes that chemistry as an industry will have its part to play in managing carbon, and that the SCI is determined to be at the forefront of this effort.

“Chemistry has a vital role to play in effective management of carbon – both within the traditional chemical industry but perhaps, more importantly, in enabling other sectors to decarbonise. For example, about 110 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent is emitted by cars, light vehicles, HGVs and motorbikes & scooters. Moving to electric drivetrains could significantly lower this, and the chemical and materials front end, which notably contains about 65 per cent of the value, can help deliver the necessary changes.

“Aerospace is another area where the chemistry is critical to enabling the sector to decarbonise. The domestic aviation industry produces about 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year and international flights add about 36 million tonnes. The sector is evaluating battery power for short-haul flights, and even hydrogen, but in the short to medium term they are aiming to use ‘sustainable aviation fuel’. This is still iso-octane but produced with sustainable carbon feedstocks.

“SCI’s central role is clear as we bring together the key players across industry and academia to work together to solve these complex challenges. This is done through our committees, via working parties targeted in specific areas, and through our extensive conference programme which provides a knowledge-sharing platform, always focused on the translation of the science out of the laboratory.”

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
August 12th 2021, 10:03am

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