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COP21 climate agreement offers short term benefits

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

By the year 2100, earth may be warmed by no more than 1.5°C. That is what world leaders agreed upon at the COP21 climate conference. The first evaluation moment is in 2023. One of the criticisms of the plans is that the focus is very far into the future. That makes the need for companies and governments to prepare for any changes less urgent. Wouter Last, President of Dutch plant IT and engineering specialist Hint has argued for a short term perspective on the climate agreement, stating: "The industry should focus on the benefits and economic gains we can already achieve in the next few years."

Global warming must be stopped by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases around the world. "It is natural that internationally applicable requirements and rules for CO2, NOX and SOX emissions will be implemented, both for the industry and individual countries,” said Last. These rules and requirements focus on a very gradual reduction, taking decades to reach its final objective. But in the meantime, businesses may already benefit from the new rules. New markets will emerge for products and services that can support the industry in their sustainability plans. As a company, you can respond to this and make it profitable soon."

Measuring a lot more

One example, according to Last, is the new market that will emerge for measuring and analyzing emissions at factories and plants. "Because we all have to comply with strict emission requirements, a lot will need to be measured. The market involved in this will strongly develop in the coming years. Currently, measuring methods are not optimal yet and we often don't know exactly which gases are being emitted and in what quantities. Systems to analyse gases, such as pressure, temperature, composition, make it possible to collect relevant data on emissions."

Existing technology, new application

Much of the required technology already exists, according to Last. "The software that we need is already developed, but is now still being used for other applications. With a few small tweaks, you'll come a long way in transforming the functionalities. In my view, the market for this will be gigantic, because the new standards need to be met worldwide by everyone. So, there's a lot of work in store for plant IT and engineering specialists, provided that they act quickly."

Worldwide, greenhouse gas emission levels must be down by 40% in 2100, compared to the 1990 levels. For many businesses and citizens, it is difficult to oversee such a long term. This reduces the sense of urgency to take sustainable measures. "Plans for the next five or ten years are a lot better to oversee than objectives that are 85 years in the future, which has the advantage of making it easier to convince entrepreneurs and citizens of the importance of sustainability,” said Last. “In the wake of this, there will be the need to develop sustainable technology. I see plenty of business opportunities arising from the new climate agreement."

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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