“The early days of this mega conference have been interspersed by momentous agreements on cutting deforestation and cutting methane emissions – both hugely important, with methane being the second most abundant greenhouse gas – but not particularly significant to the downstream sector as our emissions are relatively small, with just 0.3% of all UK methane coming from the transport sector, and even less from onshore refineries or terminals.
“That said, there will be some companies looking with interest at the announcement to stop deforestation, as forests represent an important carbon sink to offset necessary emissions – with some companies like Shell offering carbon offsets on fuels as part of their rewards programmes.
New technology as a vital part of the solution
“Throughout history, behavioural innovations like carbon offsetting, as well as new technologies, have pushed the limits of human capability. And, with climate change being one of the biggest ever challenges for mankind, innovation and new technology must be at the vanguard of our sustainability journey.
“Technology doesn’t just happen. It needs investment and it needs visionary leaders to unlock innovation. This week I’ve met the Net Zero Technology Centre who offer exactly that kind of leadership.
“We spoke about the need for long-term investment certainty, especially to develop decarbonisation technologies like Carbon Capture at the scale needed to make a difference here in the UK.
“The sector is already investing in carbon capture technology. An example is the Acorn project up here in Scotland, which seeks to use existing infrastructure, previously developed by the oil and gas sector, to capture and transport CO2 safely underground and produce low carbon hydrogen.
“This is global, leading technology and a way to sequester carbon – just like trees do naturally.
“Low carbon blue hydrogen can be a versatile technology to be used in heating, transport, industrial decarbonisation, storage for electricity grids – or even as a low carbon feedstock to produce liquids if gases aren’t what’s required.
This is why it’s such an exciting time in the downstream sector.
“Many of the trailblazing initiatives being invested in by the downstream sector may not get headlines like wind turbines or electric vehicles. But make no mistake, we are contributing technology improvements, product innovations and skills and will continue to improve our own processes between now, 2050, and beyond. “