At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris last December, 195 countries signed the world’s first agreement to reduce global warming. That historic agreement has come into force today – but what part does the industrial gas industry have to play going forward?

The sector certainly has a leading role in reducing planet-warming emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and with carbon dioxide (CO2) considered to be the primary culprit in climate change, new opportunities have emerged to accelerate carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployment as the committed countries scramble to deliver current and future emission objectives.

Brad Page, Chief Executive of the Global CCS Institute, highlighted, “Without CCS, it is highly improbable that the world can ever deliver on the Paris Agreement’s core climate goal.”

“With global geological storage potential of many thousands of gigatonnes of CO2, CCS offers more than just an attractive opportunity to manage CO2 emissions in the industrial and power sectors.”

Page outlined that CCS technologies are already capturing and storing around 24 million tonnes of CO2 every year. But it will be challenging to keep the average global temperature rise to well below 2°C, or ideally 1.5°C, as agreed upon – even with the inclusion of CCS.

“With fossil fuels likely to account for more than 70% of total primary energy up to 2040 and beyond, CCS must feature increasing as a mainstream mitigation option,” insisted Page.

Another step forward

The recent Kigali Amendment to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) was another historic step forward in the march towards a 1.5°C world after nearly 200 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda at the 28th meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP28) on 14th October.

HFCs, typically used in refrigeration and air conditioning applications, are the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases and have extremely high global warming potential (GWP). The 134a, which is the most commonly use refrigerant in the automobile section, has a GWP of 1,300 – meaning its impact on global warming is 1,300 times that of CO2.

Refrigerant expert A-Gas, founded in 1993 to deliver more environmentally acceptable solutions, has been leading the march towards lower GWP refrigerants by specialising in the supply of the latest low-GWP replacements and developing world-class refrigerant recovery and reclamation facilities.

Ken Logan, Commerical Business Development Director of the A-Gas Group, commented, “We were expecting the inclusion of HFCs into the Montreal Protocol and have worked towards this outcome over a long period of time.”

Companies within the industry also have a role to play in the imminent market explosion of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which could replace traditional diesel cars in a ’greener’ solution within the coming decade – eradicating tonnes of dangerous emissions.

Pascal Pewinski, CEO and Managing Director of electrolyser manufacturer AREVAH2Gen, believes that now is the right time for a global hydrogen (H2) transition following the significant momentum gained by the COP21 Summit. He stated, “Carbon footprint and CO2 awareness has only really spread throughout recent years; COP21 in Paris was a success and reached an agreement which had never happened before. There is an acknowledgment that GHGs are a big issue and this is now being recognised internationally.”

“Our understanding is that the offer of these FCEVs and surrounding projects create an ability and an appetite for decarbonising transportation in cities worldwide. There is high interest on a political level for this kind of mobility solution,” he added.

But with many nations riding on the promise of delivering this 1.5°C world, it appears that none have established definite targets that are capable of achieving these temperature objectives as of yet. The industrial gas industry is energy intensive by nature, and whilst companies within the sector have made significant investments towards bridging the gap, it could be argued that too much is never enough.

So what needs to happen next? Delegates from almost 200 countries are meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, next week at COP22, evaluating the next crucial steps and towards the climate change movement.

Environmental technologies will be explored in more detail in the upcoming December edition of gasworld magazine. To find out more, contact subscriptions@gasworld.com