23 years have passed since the Chairman’s for the World Commission on Environment and Development inspiring speech welcomed 175 world leaders to the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Rio in 1992. Since then, endless discussions, followed by national policies and international agreements, have been echoing the need to ensure our planet’s sustainable future.
Worryingly, according to the UN World Meteorological Organisation, fourteen out of the fifteen record-hot years have occurred after 2000. That means more efficient work needs to be done!
A couple of weeks back, in Geneva, the United Nations’ negotiators completed the draft document of the Paris Summit negotiating text. One after another countries are now drafting their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) ahead of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 that will take place in Paris in November-December 2015. By the end of March 2015, the European Union is also expected to submit its INDC.
Meanwhile, whilst the world is holding their breaths in waiting, ISOPA reiterates its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions through innovation in materials.
Europe: Leading the way in Sustainable Development
At EU level, 2015 is a crucial year. The new European Commission has been working towards developing policies in order to ensure jobs and economic growth in a sustainable environment.
In revising its climate and energy, air quality and waste policy the European Union has committed to putting sustainability at the centre of Europe’s future growth. This is where the industry can play a significant role.
Cutting the levels of greenhouse emissions does not equal the end of industrialisation. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity for the world to enter the third phase of industrial development: more sustainable, environmentally-friendly, technologically advanced thus yielding benefits for the economy, the environment and consumers. That is ISOPA’s mantra
Polyurethanes: A Primary Example of Sustainable Industrialisation
Throughout their value chains polyurethanes embody the principles behind sustainable development. While polyurethanes are mainly based on finite fossil raw material resources, their specific properties help to conserve material and energy resources, to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and to protect high and growing standards of living; making them a key contributor to environmental sustainability. Building & construction, transport and refrigeration are amongst the most important sectors where polyurethanes can make a difference. Overall, throughout its lifecycle polyurethane saves approximately 80 times more energy than it is used for its production.
Furthermore, ISOPA’s quest for sustainability and innovation has opened a door for new developments in the production of polyurethanes. For example, in 2011, a group of German chemists discovered a way to produce a chemical precursor into which CO2 is integrated and then processed into polyurethanes. That meant CO2 would no longer be wasted but would rather be used as feedstock for the production of high quality plastics instead going into the atmosphere.
Replacing oil with CO2 in the production of polyurethanes has also provided a basis from shifting the industry’s reliance of fossil fuels. Thus, using CO2 as a substitute for crude oil is reducing the production costs for polyurethane products making them dependent on commodities’ volatile prices. That’s good both for producers and consumers!
All in all, innovation is becoming the industry’s flagship that will yield significant outcomes. ISOPA supports the European objectives and showcases that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 are achievable. Reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions are not a barrier for the development in the 21st century. They are an OPPORTUNITY. By following the polyurethane’s example other industries can help achieve the COP 21 goals and ensure an ecologically an economically secure future for future generations.