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Why the climate plans for the year 2100 are already generating profits now

In 2100, earth may be warmed by no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is what the leaders of almost all the major world powers agreed upon during the COP21 of the United Nations. The year 2100 is still very far into the future – 85 years to be exact – and basically, no one can put this into perspective. This does not make the new climate deal less meaningful, but its long-term focus does make it less of a priority, while we should be aware that change is required now already. Why don’t we have a look at the short-term advantages that the environmental agreements can bring us?

World leaders have agreed on reducing global CO2 emissions. This should lead to a less rapid temperature rise on our planet. Emitting less greenhouse gases requires us to consume less fossil fuel. However, a transition from conventional energy to renewables will take decades. For the time being, sustainable energy is so expensive that large-scale usage of alternatives to oil and gas will not be feasible for the industry. The petrochemical and process industries need the oil and gas feed to continue to produce. Low energy prices also provide little urgency to switch to alternatives. In addition, fossil fuels are still available and there are still new oil reserves being found and extracted. I see little change in the next ten years.

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Measuring emissions
Nonetheless, it is good to look at emissions. Without applicable international requirements and rules for this, there will after all be little change with the largest polluters. But I do have another reason to celebrate the new climate agreement. Restrictions are placed on CO2, NOx, and SOx emissions, both on national and company levels. These emissions must be measured accurately. This market will develop strongly in the coming years. At this moment, measuring methods are not optimal yet and we often don’t exactly know which gases are being emitted and in what quantities. Systems to analyze gases, such as pressure, temperature, composition, make it possible to collect relevant data on emissions and to analyze it.

A lot of work in store
The software required is, in fact, already there, but it is still being used for other applications in factories and plants. With a few small tweaks, you’ll come a long way in transforming the functionalities. In my view, the market for this will be gigantic, because the new standards need to be met worldwide by everyone. Each polluting industry should start measuring its emissions and be able to show the results to the inspection authorities. This requires applications, meaning there is a lot of work in store for plant IT and engineering specialists, such as Hint, provided they respond to the developments quickly. The technology and expertise are available already, certainly in an innovative country like the Netherlands. We can sell our knowledge to the largest ‘polluters’. And also to ourselves, since the Netherlands also need to reduce hefty CO2 emissions.

Better to overlook
The Paris climate deal can benefit all of us much more than ‘just’ limiting global warming by 2100. Why not focus on the short-term benefits and the economic profit resulting from the plans? For instance, the new innovations that are required to achieve the longer-term objectives. And the additional business opportunities that arise. Plans for the next five or ten years are a lot better to overlook than objectives for over 85 years, which has the added benefit of it being much easier to convince entrepreneurs and citizens of the importance of sustainability. And, in the wake of this, the need to develop sustainable technology.

Wouter Last, president Hint