J5.4
Turning the tide on climate change

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 2:15 PM
Turning the tide on climate change
609 (Washington State Convention Center)
Philippe de Casabianca, Cefic, Brussels, Belgium; and R. Kandel

Mankind must face the reality and risks of climate change. Although meeting this challenge raises major difficulties and drives intense international discussions, climate change can be mitigated by using the right tools. What does one really mean by climate change? What are the observations and what is the role of human activity?

In this book I, a senior scientist who spent years working on climate, explain the scientific rationale that led IPCC to the consensus that reinforcement of the greenhouse effect by human activities is the dominant cause of current climate change. I explain what these greenhouse gases are and what are their sources. There are serious risks of continued accelerated climate change, but if industry is part of the problem, it must also be part of the solution.

We all need to act, to change our behaviour and to find innovative solutions. Chemical industry is one of the key players. Of course, it uses fossil fuel for energy production and, as such,emits greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, the chemical industry shows the way to reduce our carbon footprint.Indeed, the chemical industry can offer significant CO2 savings through its products that are then used in every economic sector. Some examples are housing, mobility, renewable energy sources,recycling, farming, textiles, lighting, wind power... Abatement of greenhouse gas emissions enabled by the chemical industry is largely due to its strong R&D capacities. This innovation capacity must be maintained to provide tools for a more sustainable future, because further improvements are needed. Because of expensive fossil energy and a strong demand for alternative solutions, the European chemical industry has developed a long tradition of research and development leading to innovative products able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For this innovative policy to continue to address our everyday-life needs while mitigating further climate change, there needs to be a constructive framework to avoid unfair competition and to maintain vigorous innovation activities. The industry has many downstream users: each of its improvements brings benefits to large parts of society and the economy.

Time for action has come. It will require a truly global policy framework to create the proper environment for sustainable development of human societies and efficient dissemination of low-carbon tools. This will require harmonized policy that will push for the most efficient and least costly greenhouse-gas-emissions-abatement opportunities, push for energy efficiency and support new technologies, development of the most sustainable use of feedstocks as well as endof- life solutions. Rewarding early movers as well as helping developing countries by technology cooperation will also be essential.