Greenhouse gas emission targets will NOT be met unless the UK chemical industry urgently and radically rethink how it works, a Manchester university report claims.
The government has set a strict target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.
Yet without urgent change within the UK chemical industry, these targets will not be met, according to a report from the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
The report, entitled Can the UK Afford (not) to Produce Chemicals in 2050, highlights the role of industry, the issues surrounding carbon leakage and the responses to the goal of reducing carbon emissions.
Dr Paul Gilbert, lead author of the report, said: “If the UK chemical industry is to grow beyond 2050 then it needs to radically think how it will achieve absolute emission reductions across the sector.
“This will require the sector to go above and beyond incremental efficiency improvements. It will require significant changes to the current processes operated, with commensurately high levels of capital investment.
“This is challenging, but with changing patterns of supply and demand for chemicals overseas, it is something industry needs to step up to.”
Setting out the challenges, the report looks to encourage a long-term strategy that encompasses both a re-balanced and low carbon economy.
The chemical industry is one of the UK’s largest manufacturing sectors with more than 95% of all manufactured products containing inputs from it. Ranking fourth in Europe, the chemical industry also generates a significant trade surplus and accounts for approximately 19% of the UK’s exports.
The report states that the chemical industry’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen significantly since 1990 by 70%.
This is as a result of technological and efficiency improvements along with factors such as the economic crisis, rising energy and feedstock prices, factory closures and off-shoring.
The report adds that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the UK’s carbon emissions targets have played a direct role in relocation.
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