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Environment, Health, Safety & Security

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Addressing climate change

| By Dorothy Lozowski

In a report 1 issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE;, one of the key summary points is that industrial decarbonization is essential to fighting climate change. The report states that the industrial sector accounts for more than 25% of energy-related U.S. emissions and the manufacturing subsector — which includes petroleum refining, food processing, and the production of chemicals, paper, cement, metals and other products — is the largest industrial user of energy with the largest share of emissions.


Climate-change goals

The chemical process industries (CPI) are indeed increasingly committing to climate-change-related goals with some ambitious targets. A number of companies including Dow (, DuPont (, Eastman Chemical ( and Total ( are aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The importance placed on climate-change goals is exemplified by Total’s recent announcement to not renew its membership with the American Petroleum Institute (API) for 2021. In its announcement, Total says that it assesses industry associations according to their alignment with the company’s climate positions, and that API’s positions were “partially aligned,” but that there were divergences. Total listed a number of its positions including: support for the objectives of the Paris Agreement; support of policies and initiatives that promote renewable energy; supporting the development of CO2 capture and storage; as well as the need for carbon pricing; confidence that natural gas plays a key role in the energy transition; and the science-based position that the link between human activity and climate change is an established fact.

CPI companies have a multi-faceted approach to their decarbonization goals, including implementing renewable energy, carbon capture and storage strategies and through increasing energy efficiency. The previously mentioned ACEEE report says that “Energy efficiency should be the foundation of industrial decarbonization because it can immediately and simultaneously reduce emissions, cut costs and provide additional benefits…” As an example of energy efficiency strategies, Total has set a target of improving energy efficiency at its industrial facilities by 1% a year. The company says it has invested nearly $450 million to maximize energy efficiency in the Refining & Chemicals business segment, which accounts for 66% of Total’s energy consumption.


In this issue

This month’s cover story (Unlock the Energy Potential of Your Plant, pp. 28–33) explores specific ways to improve energy efficiency. It uses a steam-methane reforming process for hydrogen production as an example to illustrate principles that can be more widely applied. Our Newsfront (New Offerings Aid Heat Exchanger Design and Operations, pp. 12–15) offers insights and information on new products and tools related to heat transfer equipment that can influence industrial energy consumption and process efficiency.

We hope that you find these articles, as well as the many other sections in this issue, interesting and informative. ■

Dorothy Lozowski

Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director


  1. Transforming Industry: Paths to Industrial Decarbonization in the United States by Whitlock, Elliott and Rightor; May 2020.