Reducing uncertainties in greenhouse gas emissions from chemical production

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Uncertainties in greenhouse gas emissions estimates for petrochemical production have lacked quantification globally, impacting emissions reporting and decarbonization policymaking. Here we analyze cradle-to-gate emissions of 81 chemicals at 37,000 facilities worldwide, assessing 6 uncertainty sources. The results estimate a 34% uncertainty in total global emissions of 1.9 ± 0.6 Gt of CO2-equivalent emissions for 2020, and 15–40% uncertainties across most petrochemicals analyzed. The largest uncertainties stem from the inability to assign specific production processes to facilities owing to data limitations. Uncertain data on feedstock production and off-site energy generation contribute substantially, while on-site fuel combustion and chemical reactions have smaller roles. Allocation method choices for co-products are generally insignificant. Prioritizing facility-level process specification in data collection for just 20% of facilities could reduce global uncertainty by 80%. This underscores the necessity of quantifying uncertainty in petrochemical greenhouse gas emissions globally and outlines priorities for improved reporting. The dataset generated offers independent emissions factor estimates based on facility-specific information for 81 chemicals, supporting future analyses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Chemical Engineering
Early online date26 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2024

Data Availability Statement

All data are publicly available. However, some cases require a user license from IHS Markit to access the underlying process recipes. To gain access, IHS Markit (now belonging to S&P Global) can be contacted via the following website: https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/ci/products/chemical-technology-pep-index.html. The data shown in the figures are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.23618862.v3 (ref. 55) and full versions of calculated emissions intensity factors for each process and per country are available at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10532626 (ref. 56). An interactive beta version dashboard detailing the full global emissions and uncertainties from this study can be accessed at https://9e4z.short.gy/c-thru-petrochemical-emissions.

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Reducing uncertainties in greenhouse gas emissions from chemical production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this