APLA ‘10: Chems can reduce emissions at little cost - McKinsey

08 November 2010 16:04  [Source: ICIS news]

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)--The chemical industry already has the means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage at little, if any, cost, a consultant said at an industry conference on Monday.

The chemical industry is one of the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions, said Jorge Fergie, a partner at the US-based consultancy McKinsey & Co.

He was speaking to delegates during a seminar at the annual Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

With the expected economic growth in developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), emissions will increase if nothing is done, he said.

The BRIC countries' economies will likely grow twice as fast as the rest of the world, according to Fergie.

Chemical producers also use massive amounts of water, which will become much scarcer in the future, he said.

The chemical industry is at the centre of the issue, Fergie said. “Something has to be done.”

However, chemical companies can already take several steps to reduce their emissions and water usage, Fergie said.

Moreover, he said, those steps will have negligible costs, regardless of whether governments start assigning a cost to carbon.

“Most initiatives will pay for themselves,” he said.

For example, plants could improve energy co-generation, he said, and catalyst optimisation could also reduce emissions.

Those and other steps could make large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels, he said.

However, further reductions will be more difficult to achieve, he added.

Chemical producers operate many old plants, making it expensive to carry out changes, Fergie said. “Who will pay for these changes?” he asked.

The APLA meeting runs through 9 November.

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By: Al Greenwood
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