USA - How the Gulf Coast Can be a Model for Industrial Sector Decarbonization
Last year, Louisiana joined a growing list of states that pledged to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050.
Given the state is the fourth largest GHG emitter in the U.S. achieving midcentury emission reduction targets will be especially challenging for Louisiana. Emissions from heavy industry, mostly from chemical manufacturing facilities and oil refineries, account for over half of Louisiana’s total GHG total emissions. Further complicating the state’s recent decarbonization goal is the fact that Louisiana has approved a slew of new industrial facilities that will significantly increase its GHG emissions footprint over the next decade.
Research from the University of Texas, Austin and Resources for the Future estimates potential GHG emissions from industrial facilities and infrastructure projects recently constructed, or soon to be built, in the Gulf region, specifically Texas and Louisiana. The researchers found that these facilities could raise annual GHG emissions by over 500 million tons in the next decade, which is more than 8 percent of the current annual U.S. total. Nearly 40 percent of the forecasted GHG emissions associated with this infrastructure buildout will come from petrochemical developments. If these facilities are constructed with no effort to abate any of their emissions, as the researchers assume, it would be nearly impossible for Louisiana, or the United States for that matter, to meet its decarbonization goals. Rather than building more of the same, Gulf states like Louisiana and Texas can be a model for having a vibrant industrial sector while still slashing emissions over the next decade.
Both Louisiana and Texas have unique local characteristics that they can leverage to create opportunities to advance carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). This technology will be critical for decarbonizing heavy industry. For example, both states have abundant underground reservoirs which can be used to store carbon captured from industrial facilities.