COP26 FON Blog 5: Downstream challenges

In this, his final exclusive COP26 blog post for Fuel Oil News, Stephen Marcos Jones, director-general UKPIA, offers some thought-provoking insight on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the downstream sector.

Stephen Marcos Jones UKPIA COP26

As COP Concludes…

“As COP26 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on both this conference and on the broader journey to Net-Zero for the downstream energy industry.

“In terms of focus for the COP, the transition to zero emission vehicles stood out as a priority area for the sector to engage with.”

An essential sector

“The COP26 Declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emission cars and vans was signed on the 10th of November and its signatories included over 30 nation states, along with local and regional government bodies, automotive manufacturers, fleet owners and operators or shared mobility platforms. That breadth is important as electrification won’t have all the answers to decarbonise the sector alone.

“Our members are already seizing the opportunities created by this pledge; both by producing the petroleum coke for the EV batteries, or the many other products that are essential for their production, as well as investing in EV charging infrastructure – the downstream sector is essential in the new transport landscape.

“Beyond transport, much of the conference has made progress in areas of policy that don’t directly relate to downstream.  104 countries committed to reducing methane. 40 countries to phase out coal, and 110 countries to stopping deforestation. But, while those agreements were for others, this does not mean downstream should rest on its laurels.”

“The world is rapidly evolving and that’s a positive thing.”

“Our downstream can and must continue to drive innovation towards a decarbonised energy sector if we are to maintain our influence in the economic progress of society at large.

“We must invest in large scale industrial cluster projects, working closely with government to ensure their success. We can develop low carbon fuels for difficult to decarbonise aviation and maritime and know that the answers we can develop there will help other sectors to decarbonise over time.

“If we can get it right at home first, then we know that the opportunity is a global one that could see rapid expansion and secure a just transition for the workforce.”

This is all achievable. And it will occur within our lifetimes.

“A transformed downstream sector has the solutions, the scale, and the skills to be an essential partner to deliver the ambition of all countries that COP has brought together over the past two weeks.

“The hard work starts now.”

Our thanks go to Stephen for keeping us updated on developments at COP26 and his previous blog post on transport decarbonisation can be read here.