Climate change is recognized as a major and long term threat to the planet and international agreement is sought to take effective action to address the issue.

The European Union is committed to tackling its environmental challenges and has been debating its 2030 Climate and Energy Package. Polyurethanes could play a leading role in achieving the goals set by European decision makers and their counterparts in the Member States.

Polyurethanes can make a difference in reducing emissions.

In the EU more than 40% of fossil fuel-based energy, and hence of CO2 emissions, is associated with the heating and cooling of buildings. One of the main attributes and applications of polyurethanes is in rigid insulating foams for a range of building applications, domestics and commercial refrigerators and freezers and in refrigerated truck and container bodies.

Polyurethane has the lowest thermal conductivity of any of the large volume insulants, which enables space to be saved by using smaller insulation thickness while achieving the same insulation efficiency as with other materials. The wider application of existing technology based on polyurethane rigid foam across the EU would reduce overall CO2 emissions by 10% and enable the EU to meet its commitment to the Kyoto protocol of 2010.

In the cold food chain, polyurethane rigid foam is widely used to keep food fresh at every step in the transport and storage stages. It also saves energy in the process of doing so. The best known examples are domestic refrigerators and freezers where the EU’s energy efficiency programs resulted in efficiency gains of 37% in the ten years after 2002.

In the transportation sector, polyurethanes have provided solutions to increase versatility and comfort while reducing cars’ environmental impact. Car manufacturers are using the versatility of polyurethanes to reduce weight and simultaneously improve comfort and safety in car seats, headrests and composite body parts.