Coming soon | Greenhouse gas emissions from global petrochemical production (1978-2050)

Coming soon | Greenhouse gas emissions from global petrochemical production (1978-2050)

Fanran Meng, Luke Cullen, Rick Lupton, Jonathan M. Cullen

This article is currently under review.

The petrochemical industry is responsible for 14% of global industrial Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and 3.5% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions. Decarbonisation is challenging due to releases from process reactions, long infrastructure lifespans, and high-temperature heat requirements. A combination of efficiency improvements, alternative feedstock uses and carbon capture technologies must be implemented to reduce GHG emissions, but analysis and action is are hindered by poor granularity for emissions accounts. To address this gap, this paper maps historical, present, and anticipated GHG emissions from petrochemical production, across six dimensions: product type, region, year, GHG type, life cycle stage, and uncertainty. We develop a process-based life cycle assessment model of 81 chemicals, based on 2,000 possible manufacturing processes at 37,000 specific facilities worldwide, integrating production volumes, process recipes and thermodynamic principles. We estimate that global GHG emissions from petrochemical production were 1.9±0.6 GtCO2e in 2020, rising to 3.2±1.1 GtCO2e 2.0±0.8 GtCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions today rising to 3.0±1.2 GtCO2e in 2050. Northeast Asia dominates production with 50% of the global total today. South Asia’s emissions are rising rapidly and are expected to surpass those of North America and Europe by 2047. Our findings will support the industry, academics and policymakers to develop effective strategies to reduce emissions in the petrochemical sector.

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