BLOG: Environmental crises: no “silver bullet” solution but petchems must get this right

Author: John Richardson


SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson. There will be no one-size-fits-all technological solution, or even a dominating group of solutions, to our two environmental crises: climate change and plastic waste. Solutions will be region- and country-specific.

Oil, gas and petrochemical companies confront investor flight if they fail to walk their green talk. But they still must consider:

  • In 1999-2019, developed-world equivalent demand for ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene and paraxylene (“equivalent” means all the things made from these building block petrochemicals) was 4bn tonnes. It was 2.4bn tonnes in the developing world.
  • A complete flip is forecast to occur in 2020-40. We expect developing world demand to soar to 6.9bn tonnes. Consumption in the developed world will be 4bn tonnes.

We should want this kind of demand growth to happen as it would mean hundreds of millions more people have been lifted out of relative and extreme poverty. The “less is more” argument would deny people the things they want and need.

Our defining challenge as a petrochemicals industry is achieving this volume growth sustainably.

We simply must get this right.

Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.