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Embarking on an Industrial Net-Zero Journey

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To achieve net zero, the first step is developing a roadmap for monitoring, reporting, and reducing carbon emissions.

Today, many companies in the chemical process industries (CPI) have made sustainability and environmental stewardship a prime objective. Sustainability can be defined as the ability to responsibly utilize human and natural resources to provide value, protect the environment, and thus enable success now and in the future. In order to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, emissions must be reduced immediately and eventually reach net zero (1). Net zero can be achieved by negating the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by human activity and reducing emissions that stem from industry, as well as removing GHGs from the atmosphere. In other words, net zero means that GHG emissions will be eliminated (or negated through direct air capture or other carbon sequestration methods) from industrial facilities. Limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels will significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

As part of the 2021 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (i.e., COP26), the U.S. government announced commitments to cut GHG emissions by 50–52% from 2005 levels by 2030, reach a 100% carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035, and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050 (2). Pursuing net-zero emissions will result in significant transformations in energy security, global supply chains, and quality of life.

This article provides an introduction to net-zero emissions goals and discusses potential pathways to achieve net-zero emissions through enterprise emissions monitoring, technology roadmap assessment, and sustainable process development...

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